Celebrating 25 Books Over 25 Years: Juna’s Jar

Lee and Low 25th anniversaryLEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and to recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today, as well as hear from the authors and illustrators. Today we’re featuring one of our recent favorites, Juna’s Jar! Published in 2015, this sweet story with universal appeal and a touch of magical realism received widespread acclaim and continues to resonate with readers of all ages.

Featured Title: Juna’s Jar

Author: Jane Bahk

Illustrator: Felicia Hoshino

Synopsis: Juna and her best friend, Hector, love to go on adventures in the park, collecting things to put in Juna’s empty kimchi jars. But then one day Hector unexpectedly moves away, and Juna is left wondering who will play with her. With the help of her special jar, Juna searches for her friend the world over. What Juna finds is that Juna's Jaradventure—and new friends—can be found in the most unexpected places.

Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award, Juna’s Jar is a heartwarming and whimsical celebration of friendship and the power of imagination.

Awards and Honors: 

  • Notable Books for a Global Society, International Reading Association (IRA)

  • New Voices Award Winner, LEE & LOW BOOKS

  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Asian/Pacific American Library Association

  • Best Books of the Year, Honorable Mention, The Huffington Post

  • Best Multicultural Books, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Books

  • Top 2015 Mighty Girl Books for Young Children, A Mighty Girl

  • Top 25 APA Book Picks for 2015, BookDragon

In an article for Great Schools, author Jane Bahk writes about sadness in Juna’s Jar and “why it’s better for my daughter to feel sad than fine”: 

Juna's Jar spot
from Juna’s Jar

When some early reviews stated that Juna’s Jar was sad, I cringed. I worried that parents wouldn’t give the book a chance if they think it’s sad. Parents want books that will make their kids laugh, not cry. Research bears out my assumptions; according to Scholastic’s report, the Kids & Family Reading Report, 70 percent of parents say they look for books that will make their kids laugh.

I also love when a book can make my kids burst into giggles, but it touches my heart even more when a story can make them feel. When I first read Juna’s Jar to my 4-year-old son, he always stopped me on the part where Juna is devastated because her best friend moves away. He wanted something more from me on this page. He stared at me intently and waited for explanations and words of comfort. The fact that he empathized with Juna made me feel successful as a writer and relieved as a mother.

Resources for teaching with Juna’s Jar:

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How have you used Juna’s Jar? Let us know!