The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
This book is like a golden nugget.
I read it the first time, thought it was good, thought it was nice. Read it the second time and though, yeah, it's still pretty good. Then I read it the third time. Wow. OK. For a book with so little words, it sure does pack a punch.
The story is of a girl who spends time with her grandfather (or father? You can only guess from the pictures.) reading books, going places, and she loves noticing the beauty and wonder and curiosities of the world. But then suddenly he's not there anymore and she's alone.
She decides to put her heart away, somewhere safe where it can't get hurt. But she stopped taking delight in the things she once noticed and enjoyed. Anyway, I won't give the whole narrative away. There is so much to be taken away from this story and even though it seems really quite simple at first, there is a poignancy in all that's not said.
Oliver Jeffers is a great storyteller. The father/grandfather character is never mentioned in the story, at least not through the writing. We only see him in the illustrations. And when he's gone, Jeffers deals with the loss so delicately and gently, we never explicitly know what's happened to the little girl's heart that's made her feel like she needs to put it away somewhere safe and out of reach. Obviously it hurt her heart. But kids don't need heartache to be spelled out for them, do they? This is a children's book after all.
The Heart & the Bottle is a beautiful story about the human heart and its inner workings, life and growing up. There's a lesson to be learned about guarding your heart in a way that isn't detrimental to your life passions and loves. The ending is sweet and this book should strike a chord in the hearts of children and adults alike.
My rating: 4.5 stars