The Heart and the Bottle

Oliver Jeffers, Author, Oliver Jeffers, Illustrator
Oliver Jeffers, Author, Oliver Jeffers, Illustrator . Philomel $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25452-9
Reviewed on: 02/15/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Hardcover - 34 pages - 978-0-00-718230-5
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-00-734595-3
Hardcover - 33 pages - 978-89-6513-037-6
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-607-16-0106-3
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-00-718234-3
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-00-742900-4
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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.)

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