Monday, June 27, 2011

Making Strawberry Jam - Children's Books about Jam / Jam Day by Barbara Joosse; Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

"Jam on biscuits, jam on toast,
Jam is the thing that I like most.
Jam is sticky, jam is sweet,
Jam is tasty, jam's a treat --
Raspberry, strawberry, gooseberry, I'm very
FOND ... OF ... JAM!"

- Bread and Jam For Frances by Russell Hoban

After picking eight pounds of strawberries on Father's Day, I decided it was time we tried making a batch of strawberry jam. I called on the experts (my mom and grandma) for a little advice and decided to make the Sure-Jell cooked jam recipe found inside the box of Sure-Jell pectin. The recipe calls for 5 cups of crushed strawberries and 7 cups of sugar and makes a nice sized batch. My grandmother warned me that I should wear long sleeves and rubber gloves while boiling the jam on the stove because it tends to splatter. I felt a little silly wearing gloves while cooking but at least I didn't burn myself! I didn't can my batch but instead put the filled jars in the freezer after they cooled. It's been awhile since I've had homemade jam, and I had forgotten just how good it tastes! The jam is well worth the time and effort --- I am very FOND OF JAM (and so are my kids)!

Of course we enjoyed reading a few books while eating our yummy jam:

Jam Day by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Harper & Row (1987); ISBN 0060230967; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

"Mama and Ben take turns squashing the berries with a potato masher. Then Grandmam pours the mashed berries, shiny and red, into a big kettle to boil into jam."

An extended family gathers together to cook up a batch of strawberry jam in Joosse's Jam Day. Ben travels with his mother by train and watches all the families on the train with longing. "Ben and Mama are just two," and he wishes his family was bigger, not just two. When he arrives at his grandparents' house for a "Jam Day" he joyfully realizes that he is part of a big, noisy extended family. The family works together on Jam Day, picking strawberries in a large u-pick patch, hulling the strawberries and filling 22 jars with delicious strawberry jam. Even the men lend a hand, and Grandpap shows Ben how to make biscuits. McCully's hand-drawn outlines filled with watercolor details really capture the down-to-earth family life described by Joosse.

Kids can learn a bit about the jam making process from Joosse's book, though the majority of the book concentrates more on family togetherness. Reading Jam Day brought back memories of my childhood and made me more than a little nostalgic. I picked lots of strawberries out of my grandparents' strawberry patch and enjoyed my grandmother's homemade jam right out of a cut-glass dish, just like in the book. Interestingly enough, the family in the book uses wax to seal the jars of jam, a technique not often used anymore (though my grandma says she used to make jam this way). The book also references the song, "White Coral Bells," a beautiful song that can be sung in a round that I had rather forgotten about.

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban. Harper & Row (1964)
Book Source: Copy from public library

Frances, the familiar little badger, proclaims her love of jam in this classic picture book about a notoriously picky eater. Frances prefers bread and jam above all other foods and won't try anything new. She even trades her chicken-salad lunch with her friend Albert at school so she can eat bread and jam. Her wise parents yield to her jam desires, and, after eating jam day in and day out, Frances eventually learns of the advantages of varied diet.

This summer we started working our way through Hoban's beloved series about Frances, all perfect for early readers, and I must say that Bread and Jam for Frances is our favorite thus far. Frances sings amusing, rhyming songs throughout the book about her love of jam and why she dislikes other types of food like eggs and veal cutlets. My daughter can identify, especially since she also does not enjoy eating eggs. We read and enjoyed an original older version from our library, not the reillustrated, full color version. According to some other reviewers, some of the more recent versions are abridged.

Kid Konnection Link up your weekend book posts at What My Child is Reading at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns, and/or Kid Konnection at Booking Mama. Little Wonders Days is hosting a weekly Summertime Fun Party link-up. Making homemade jam is on our "bucket list" this summer. Join JDaniel4's Mom Read, Explore, Learn link-up every Friday.

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My Oatmeal Kisses said...

This is such a fun idea! I can't wait to find books for all of the canning I am going to do this summer and fall!

P.S. Thanks for the info for the sun burst, it was so cool!

Julie P. said...

What a wonderful post! I love that you actually made jam -- I've never tackled that. And I love that you tied it into jam books. Just too cute!

Anonymous said...

Oh, YUM!

We adore Frances in my house. I especially like the way she unpacks her lunchbox, with the little salt and pepper shakers, etc.

annies home said...

love this book and jam sounds great as well I just recent shared this on my blog as well come see at

Jenn @ Coolest Family on the Block said...

That looks so yummy! I LOVE jam too. My husband can't stand it, but I say...more for me!

Unknown said...

The jam looks so good! We ended up freezing most of the strawberries we picked on Father's Day. I suppose I could still make jam...
I love the story "Bread and Jam for Frances"!

Misty Nagel said...

I just learned how to make jam myself. Thanks for the book connections!

Isil Simsek said...

This post makes me hungry :) Beautiful books and thx for linking up to book sharing monday.

Little Wonders' Days said...

Yum, your jam looks delicious. Bread and Jam for Frances was one of may favorites as a child. Thanks for sharing at the Summertime Fun Party.

Jen said...

Can you come over and make some for us, please??? Looks awesome- what a great summer activity.

Enjoy your day- always love reading your blog when I have a second- which seems rare these days with a toddler! ;)


Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

You just gave me craving for fresh strawberries and strawberry jam :) Thanks for joining WMCIR!

Chestnut Grove Academy said...

Here from book sharing Monday! My favorite berry/jam book is jamberry ;) Love homemade strawberry jam! Following you on GFC, hope you'll stop by sometime