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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Book review: Jam for Nana, by Deborah Kelly

Posted by Lisa Hill on April 1, 2014


Jam for nanaAnother book about grandmothers!  This one is a charming complement to Damon Young’s light-hearted My Nanna Is A Ninja by (see my recent review) and is ideal for exploring the Foundation topic of families in the Australian History Curriculum:

ACHHK001 Who the people in their family are, where they were born and raised and how they are related to each other
  • identifying the different members of a family, (for example mother, father, caregiver, sister, brother, grandparent, aunty, uncle, cousin) and creating simple family trees with pictures or photographs (if possible using ICT) to show the relationship between family members
  • naming family members, finding out where they were born and raised and placing their photographs, drawings and names on a classroom world map

Part of exploring diversity for this age group  involves investigating family structures, and for many young children with both or solo parents at work, informal childcare with a grandmother becomes a highly significant relationship.  In Jam for Nana Deborah Kelly depicts a nana with nostalgia for apricot jam made in the old-fashioned way and her grand-daughter’s quest to find jam for her, with ‘the warmth of a hundred summers’.

(I myself can certainly relate to this nostalgia: store-bought jams and marmalades are generally flavourless, thin and runny, and almost fruit-free.  Busy as I am, I still make my own preserves, to a recipe, not a price).

The illustrations by Lisa Stewart are in soft pastel shades, but Nana is a stylish older woman in tunic and jeans, with a smart bob and a jaunty scarf around her neck.  She talks about jam ‘in the old country’ so she could be from anywhere, but it’s somewhere far away ‘across a great ocean’ which she had sailed as a little girl.

Nana’s memories – depicted in photo-frames – hint at a European mama feeding chickens but the jars of jam are labelled in English.  It’s a small quibble but I would have liked those labels to be as open-ended as the text is.  Pancakes, after all, are eaten all over the world, though of course they are made in different ways and have different names.  An imaginative teacher could easily make a multicultural PowerPoint to include a diversity of Australian children by using images from the different varieties on show at Wikipedia. 

That, I suspect, would lead naturally to a bit of cooking in the classroom, and perhaps that might even include making a small batch of real fruit jam?  There’s a very simple recipe – safely made in a microwave oven – at Taste.

Author: Deborah Kelly
Illustrator: Lisa Stewart
Title: Jam for Nana
Publisher: Random House Australia, 2014
ISBN: 9780857980014
Source: Review copy courtesy of Random House

Availability

Fishpond: Jam for Nana

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