A seemingly ordinary kimchi jar is anything but in this gentle tale of old friends and new.
Best friends Juna and Hector collect rocks and bugs in her family’s empty kimchi jars. One day, Juna goes to Hector’s apartment only to learn from his abuela that his parents came and took him to live with them far away. To cheer her up, Juna’s brother buys her a fish to place in the empty kimchi jar. That night, she dreams of questing underwater for Hector, only to awaken to find her pet has, remarkably, grown too big for its home. She turns the now-empty jar into a terrarium with a small bean plant, and that night she imagines she is looking for Hector through a rain forest. This pattern is repeated again with a cricket, and then finally Juna is able to come to terms with Hector’s absence and is emotionally ready to make another friend. The steady narrative repetition as Juna sleeps and seeks offers a reassuring pattern for children who might be missing their own Hectors. The logic (or magic) behind the jar’s occupants’ phenomenal growth is unclear, and Juna’s brother never remarks on its impossibility; less-credulous readers will wonder about this. Meanwhile, the muted tones of Hoshino’s watercolors soothe and, on occasion, amuse, as when readers witness the slightly smooshed lips of Juna enduring a hug she did not seek.
While a little logically shaky, this fills a need for those children who find themselves adrift when their closest friends seemingly disappear. (Picture book. 4-7)