Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Hard-Times Jar

The Hard-Times Jar

Ethel Footman Smothers; Pictures by John Holyfield

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)



A look at the life of migrant workers through a child's eyes

Emma Turner loves books and dreams of one day having the store-bought kind, but the Turners are migrant workers and money is tight. That means "no extras," so Emma must be content to make her own stories and books. Emma has a plan, though – she's going to save all the money she earns picking apples and put it in Mama's hard-times jar. Then there will surely be enough for extras. But when Mama tells Emma that this year she has to go to school instead of to work, it spoils everything. Now she will never own a store-bought book! But school turns out to have a wonderful surprise in store for Emma.

Based on Ethel Footman Smothers's childhood, the story is brought to life with lush acrylic paintings, giving us a touching portrait of a book-hungry child.

NCSS-CBC NotableTrade-Soc.Stdy, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies


Praise for The Hard-Times Jar

“Smothers's tale movingly attests to the rewards of hard work, honesty and of having dreams.” —Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Based on the author's childhood, this inspirational story stands as a tribute to a strong family facing hard times...Filled with descriptive language, the text flows smoothly and clearly describes Emma's enthusiasm and fears.” —New York Public Library

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Ethel Footman Smothers; Pictures by John Holyfield

Ethel Footman Smothers lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

John Holyfield lives in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

Ethel Footman Smothers

Ethel Footman Smothers

John Holyfield

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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