Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Genie in the Jar Hardcover – March, 1996
From timeless classics to new favorites, find children's books for every age and stage. See more
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
Despite Raschka's (Charlie Parker Played Bebop) compelling art-a series of sprightly yet soulful sketches that dance, skip and twirl across the pages-Giovanni's brief, abstract poem fails to take flight. Reading the text aloud helps, as the cadence of the words emerges, but younger readers especially may puzzle over the meaning: "Make the sky sing a Black song/ sing a blue song/ sing my song make the sky/ sing a Black song/ from the Black loom from the Black loom." The abrupt ending, which acts like an unresolved chord, is unsettling at best as it reprises a refrain: "Careful baby/ don't prick your finger." Played out against warm, solid backdrops, Raschka's illustrations assist in deciphering the verses. With the most fluid of lines, he reduces his compositions to an essence of motion: he envisions a circle game played by children of color, with the activity revolving around a girl (the "genie" of the title) and her mother (who becomes the "jar" when her loving arms encircle the girl). Even with Raschka's bright interpretation, it's questionable whether this well-intentioned effort will connect with its targeted audience. Ages 4-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
PreS Up?This profound book is as lyrical as poetry and as patterned as a lullaby, both simple and complex, concrete and elusive. In it, a black woman repeatedly admonishes her daughter, "Careful baby, don't prick your finger," but also encourages her to "take a note and spin it around," and "to take the air and weave the sky around the Black loom." Finally, the child is enfolded in her mother's arms and encircled by the women of the "Black loom" before she soars in independence. Demonstrating prototypical interdependence of words and pictures, Raschka's illustrations and Giovanni's words are inseparable in reading and understanding the whole. The artist's bold lines are few, but not a single one is wasted or out of place. The girl is so full of life that she fairly floats on backgrounds ranging from warm brown, to glowing gold, to richest black. Turning convention on its ear, the safe circle of black women is placed on a black background, while the warnings appear on white. The child is seen dancing, singing, and waving strands of sky in and out of the circle of women as her dress turns tender sky blue; she has internalized the freedom of the sky. In a ritual of sanctuary and protection, she is released, genie-like, from her mother's arms within the embracing circle of community into joyous, sunny gold possibilities. Symbolic on many levels, this poem is addressed to a black audience, but its message is undeniably universal. It is as cautionary and as reassuring as a creative life, lived with both risk and self-fulfillment.?Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
The words in this book are like the lyrics of a song that repeat, pause, repeat, leap, and repeat again. Eschewing punctuation, the book reads, "take a note/ and spin it around/ spit it around/ don't/ prick your finger". On the pages, a small black girl spins herself around, running to the safety of her mother when she pricks her finger. She is surrounded by other members of her family, who form a loose loving circle around her. Grabbing portions of the sky, she weaves it in this "Black loom". And when the words say, "take a genie/ and put her in a jar/ put her in a jar/ wrap the sky around her", the little girl is enclosed in the loving arms of her mother and surrounded by the circle of her family/community. She is set free to fly by her parent, but with the final admonishment once more to not prick her finger.
No, I don't really understand it very well either. I've explained it in as clear a manner as I can, but this book takes several readings to completely comprehend. Both the writer and the illustrator were influenced by the singer Nina Simone, and this is well reflected in the text. Just the same, it's heavy stuff. Possibly too heavy for some little ones to understand intrinsically (let alone their parents). For other children (those of a dreamy otherworldly disposition), it may become their favorite book. It does have a lovely message, though (a message I had to gather through the bookflap). The words are simple but layered with different meanings. The illustrations by Chris Raschka are drawn on thick brown paper. Sometimes this paper is painted white, or yellow, or black. The misleadingly messy people pop out at the viewer while melding with their background. Raschka certainly had his work cut out for him when he decided to illustrate this puppy. To my mind he's done an admirable job, considering he didn't even have a plot to work from. My personal favorite moment in this book is when the little girl character suddenly appears on a page wearing a dress the color of the blue sky she was previously weaving in and over her relatives. From there, it's just a short jump to flight.
This is not a book for everyone. There are people who will pick up this book after reading the title, "The Genie In the Jar" and expect some kind of fantasy involving... um... genies and jars, I guess. Let me be clear then when I state that no genies or jars are forthcoming. This is a complex moral picture book about the role of the individual in relation to the community that has raised them. It's about the love of families and the strength we gather from those who love us. Like I said before, I don't know if kids will be able to get the message in this multi-layered format. Maybe they won't. But I like this book, and I think you will too.