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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

AR Level: 2.5
AR Points: 0.5
AR Quiz Number: 136254
Page Count: 36

Oliver Jeffers gets it. Time after time when I open up his books, I find stories that children will enjoy, but that really resonate with me as an adult. The Heart and the Bottle is a perfect example of this. You could even argue that this book makes more sense to adults than it will to children.

In The Heart and the Bottle we follow a young girl through her relationship with a someone who is presumably a relative, and the subsequent loss of that loved one. She decides to hide her heart away, to keep it safe, but it takes some of the joy out of her existence. She is less alive by literally bottling up her heart.

All of this changes when she meets someone that wakes her heart up a bit...and what I love is that this is not a Prince Charming character, but instead a small child who reminds her of what it is like to live with a wide open heart. Frustrated and and wanting to change, she tries to force her heart back out of the bottle, but can not figure it out on her own. The act of loving fearlessly again ends up not being something she can make happen, but effortlessly is extracted from her by the innocence of a little girl much like she once was.

WOW. The genius in this book, is in the negative space, in what is not said. For example, the adult that goes missing from the pages is never revealed to be a father, grandfather, uncle, neighbor, or friend. The empty chair that the girl finds, is never explained either. Anything could have happened... death, divorce, illness, moving away. The reader is left to fill in the blanks with their own personal experiences, winding their own hearts into the story. We all understand loss, though it looks different to each of us. By showing the story with pictures, leaving the words sparse, and leaving out specifics, Oliver Jeffers allows room for his readers to emotionally fill in the blanks of this book, making it incredibly resonate no matter who you are.

I highly recommend The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers to young and old alike. This might make an especially poignant gift to the grown up in your life that is working through a loss. Sometimes seeing ourselves reflected in picture books, makes everything a little easier to understand.

For more information you can check out the web site below: http://www.oliverjeffers.com or you can have a look at this lovely little video below to learn more about Oliver Jeffers:

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