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The Heart and the Bottle


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About the Author

Oliver Jeffers graduated from The University of Ulster in 2001 with First Class honours. His outstanding talent has been recognised by several high-profile awards, including the Nestle Children's Book Prize Gold Award. 'Lost and Found' animation was broadcast on Channel 4. Oliver lives and works in Brookyln, New York.


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.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Praise for The Heart and the Bottle:

"Beautifully produced and profoundly moving... It made me cry, and I'm pretty sure I won't be the only one." The Irish Times

"Jeffers anatomises loss and the processes of grief with an honesty and ingenuity that will move adults and children of any age." Telegraph

Praise for Oliver Jeffers:

"Oliver Jeffers makes impressive use of space in this affecting story of friendship ... illustrations capture feelings of loss and loneliness through the most delicate nuances of facial expression ... and body language." Julia Eccleshare, The Guardian

"Hail to new talent ... If only all picture books could be this good." The Bookseller

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 Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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