CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 4 . . . .October 14, 2005
Bottled Sunshine tells of the easy friendship between grandmother and grandson as they prepare to say good bye to summer and the fun they've had. When Grandma finds Sammy sad to leave, she suggests that they go and "bottle sunshine"—picking the biggest ripest blackberries and "bottling" them into jam. As they pick, Grandma gently teaches Sammy that bees and prickles are also part of the process:
When Sammy gets home, his jar of bottled sunshine is placed on his special shelf, but it is soon forgotten as friends, school and activities preoccupy him. It is only in mid-winter when his mother receives a phone call that Grandma has died that Sammy remembers their good times and the bottled sunshine that resulted. As he shares his jam with his mother, memories of the summer come back to him—the humming of bees, and the feeling of the sun on his face.
In this way, award-winning author Andrea Spalding uses the metaphor of jam making to tell a larger story-life is full of prickles and bees, but good things are there for those who look for them. Issues are dealt with gently, never heavy-handedly. The easy relationship between Sammy and Grandma rings very true, as does that of Sammy and his mother later in the story.
Ruth Ohi's soft focus watercolours beautifully complement this story as the pictures, themselves, seem dappled with sunlight.
To relegate this story to a section on "grief" would be to miss all the wonderful life-affirming messages for all of us. Bottled Sunshine is a lovely story for children of all ages.
Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller now living in Edmonton, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.