Book Recommendation: Juna’s Jar
Published on: June 13, 2022
As many of us prepare to say goodbye to expat friends this month, Liz and Emily share their thoughts on a book that can help young children navigate the experience.
By Liz and Emily Pond
This feature is dedicated to our friends Iwona and Livia.
For many in the Bangkok expat community, the month of June means saying goodbye to great friends. As the school year ends, many families will move on from Thailand. Some will journey back home, and others will set off on a new leg of their expat adventure somewhere else in the world. For all of them, they will say farewell not just to the city, but also to the people who have become part of the ‘family’ during their stay in Bangkok.
Our first meaningful experience of this was when my children were aged four and one. The tribe we’d formed—a small group of moms and toddlers—had a ‘goer’. One of our great friends and her family was moving on to a new post, and we were being left behind.
This is when we discovered ‘Juna’s Jar’, written by Jane Bahk and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino.
Juna’s Jar tells the story of Juna, best friend to Hector, and an empty kimchi jar. One morning, ready to start on another of their great adventures together, Juna pays a visit to Hector. She is sad to find that he has moved away with his parents and didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.
On seeing his little sister so sad, Juna’s big brother, Minho, does his best to cheer her up by helping her to find new things to put in her empty jar. In the days that follow, though she misses Hector dearly, Juna embarks on some new adventures, discovering magical worlds and meeting some unexpected yet welcome friends along her way.
I won’t lie— reading Juna’s Jar for the first time with my children had me in tears! Bahk tells the story with simple yet beautiful descriptions, immersing the reader in the magic of Juna’s adventures and illustrating the depth of her friendship with Hector. Hoshino’s illustrations are stunningly detailed and capture Juna’s emotions perfectly on every page. Juna’s honesty makes her character and her experience relatable to children, and the love shown to her by the other characters as she moves through her journey is heartwarming.
For those of us that are ‘stayers’ when June comes around and friends move away, this story of friendship is like a warm hug for both parents and children. It validates our feelings of sadness, understands our loss, and shows us just how powerful our imaginations can be. It reminds us that what we’re going through is all because we’ve been lucky enough to have had a great friendship, and that we can and will have that again. Juna’s Jar is a great addition to the bookshelves of all expat parents with young children.
Thoughts on Juna’s Jar by Emily, age 7
I like reading this book by myself and with my mummy. My favorite character is Juna’s brother, Minho, because he helps his little sister. My favorite part of the book is when she goes inside the jar and explores. It’s really fun. I think other kids would like this book because lots of fun things happen in the story. I would give this book five stars.
At the time of writing, Juna’s Jar was available to order online from Books Kinokuniya Thailand and amazon.com.
Photos courtesy of the authors.
About the Author
Liz has been an expat in Southeast Asia since 2013. She is a mom-of-two from the UK and a proud BAMBI volunteer, having been involved in various roles for over three years. She is currently enjoying her role as a member of the BAMBI Magazine editorial team.
Emily is seven years old. Her favorite color is white. She likes drawing and going to theme parks. Her favorite ride is the ‘Speedy Mouse’ roller coaster at Dreamworld.
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