Gift Guide

The Heart and the Bottle

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There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don’t realize it at the time, of course . . . yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play.

But what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up . . . or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see ...

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There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don’t realize it at the time, of course . . . yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play.

But what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up . . . or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play.

Oliver Jeffers delivers a remarkable book, a tale of poignancy and resonance reminiscent of The Giving Tree that will speak to the hearts of children and parents alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Absolutely captivating artwork: the way in which Jeffers employs pictures... to convey the limberness of imagination is brilliant.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A young girl is thrilled with the wonders of the earth, the stars, and the sea, shared with a father or grandfather. One day, when his chair is empty, she feels so unsettled that to keep her heart safe, she puts it in a bottle and hangs it around her neck. She loses her curiosity and interests as she grows up. When she meets someone small and curious, however, she wants her heart again to answer her, but she cannot break open the bottle. The small girl, however, is able to take it out and give it back to her where it belongs. "And the chair wasn't so empty anymore. But the bottle was." The ideas projected in this sparse, deceptively simple tale need space to evolve. Jeffers opens lots of space for his characters and few props to visualize the emotional message. The first girl is a sketchy but appealing figure with dots for eyes, line for mouth, matchstick arms and legs. Some of her thoughts appear in speech balloons held by kite strings. On the last double page she sits smiling in the chair, a stack of books beside her, and a huge thought balloon above her head filled with a multitude of things, matched by the assemblage on the wordless cover. The illustrations are made from "all sorts of stuff," watercolor, gouache, acrylic, plus bits of old books and house paint. The front end pages are filled with dozens of small line drawings of pairs of a young girl and an older man. The rear pages display medical drawings, complete with labels, of a heart. Young readers may need help to see the symbolism in both text and art. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Publishers Weekly
When a small girl loses her father, her only parent (Jeffers represents the loss with the father's empty chair in a moonlit room), she decides “the best thing” is to put her heart in a bottle and hang it around her neck. All the bubbly curiosity that had made her sparkle disappears, “but at least her heart was safe.” Not until the girl, now considerably older, meets “someone smaller and still curious about the world” is her heart restored to her. Jeffers's (The Great Paper Caper) artwork is the sweetness in this bittersweet story. Conversations between the girl and her father appear as balloons with images in them instead of words; his answers to her enthusiastic “questions” about the world are expressed in scientific prints and diagrams. In the final spread, as she sits reading in her father's chair, a thought balloon exploding with childlike and cerebral images alike makes it clear that she is once again at peace. While the subject of loss always has the potential to unsettle young readers, most should find this quietly powerful treatment of grief moving. Ages 4–up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—A short, bittersweet story about a little girl "whose head was filled with all the curiosities of the world." In the accompanying picture, she tells her kind, attentive father about all the wonderful images in her head. But one day, she runs to show him a drawing and finds only his empty chair. To ease her loneliness and grief, she puts her heart in a bottle and hangs it around her neck. Eventually, she learns that this is ultimately no solution at all. By then, she's grown older, and it takes another little girl, much like the child she used to be, to help her find a way out. The whimsical illustrations appear to be paint and pencil, with a touch of collage. The people are depicted very simply, and the natural landscapes are sweeping, with colors that reinforce the subtly shifting moods. Aimed at an older audience than one would think at first glance, this allegory about grief and the futility of attempts at self-protection will resonate most with those who've suffered a loss. An unusual, original book.—Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Kirkus Reviews
"Once there was a girl, much like any other," curious and full of wonder; able to explore and discover because the man was there. Expansive environments illuminate the deep and abiding bond between child and elder. Then-an empty chair, a darkened room, a waiting child. Grief-stricken, the girl places her heart in a bottle for safekeeping, but "in truth, nothing was the same," and so it remains into adulthood until someone "smaller and still curious about the world" finds the key to unlock her heart. Emotions, thoughts and memories pour forth, and the chair is empty no longer. The author beautifully weaves themes of love, loss and healing into a stirring story. Tender illustrations, dense with detail when the protagonist's imagination is thriving and sparse when her heart is disembodied, deftly delineate the character's emotional state. The sophisticated palette creates a consistency across the pages, and the artwork, meticulously constructed and edited with a uniquely minimalist aesthetic, is signature Jeffers. Heartbreaking, witty and filled with hope, this will perhaps rings most true with children whose parents have recently suffered a loss. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399254529
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/4/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 92,155
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Oliver Jeffers ( makes art and tells stories. His books include How to Catch a Star; Lost and Found, which was the recipient of the prestigious Nestle Children’s Book Prize Gold Award in the U.K. and was later adapted into an award-winning animated film; The Way Back Home; The Incredible Book Eating Boy; The Great Paper Caper; The Heart and the Bottle, which was made into a highly acclaimed iPad application narrated by Helena Bonham Carter; Up and Down, the New York Times bestselling Stuck; The Hueys in the New Sweater, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year; and This Moose Belongs to Me, a New York Times bestseller. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Oliver now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
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Customer Reviews

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