Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MAKING PLUM JAM by John Warren Stewig


by John Warren Stewig & illustrated by Kevin O'Malley

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7868-0460-2
Publisher: Hyperion

Eccentric aunts Jane, Lizzie, and Alice star in Stewig’s (Mother Holly, 2001, etc.) memoir-ish account of a boy’s summer sojourn to the country. “Now, Jackie, just think before you do anything,” his mother says as they drive through the cornfields. “You know the aunts sometimes do things differently than we do.” The next day, Jack sets about his usual tasks of fetching eggs from the hen house and watering the plants. But when the aunts decide to make plum jam, Jackie sees the truth of his mother’s words. O’Malley’s (Dinosaur Deals, 2001, etc.) full-bleed spread, which appears to be rendered in colored pencil, shows the foursome packed into the car on their way to Farmer Wilson’s land. On the next spread, they gleefully pick plums off the farmer’s tree while the angry farmer angrily approaches. A vignette of the foot-stomping farmer varies the pacing on the next spread; on the opposite page, the getaway car, shown from the rear, leaves a trail of dust and purple fruit. Stewig draws the story to a close with an act of redemption. Unable to sleep that night, Jackie sneaks out of bed and leaves a basket of jam in Farmer Wilson’s mailbox with a note that says “Thank You.” It makes for better neighborly relations—a few days later Farmer Wilson returns the gesture. “Thought you might like to eat some fresh,” reads the note tucked inside a basket of fruit. Young readers will likely recall stories of their own after hearing this expressive tale. A good choice to inspire storytelling sessions and children’s own writing. (Picture book. 5-9)