The mind of Oliver Jeffers is brilliant. He has a way of capturing a brief moment and an inexpressible feeling in time within each picture book. Every story he has created has left a very specific and lovely impression on my heart. I hope this is not overstating it, but I love everything Oliver Jeffers. His newest book, Heart in a Bottle, is no exception.
It is hard to explain Heart in a Bottle. Everything I say will do it an injustice, but it had a lasting impact on me. It is incredibly touching. Jeffers captures emotions with very little (and even a bit abstract) text. The story centers around a young girl who grows to be an adult. At the beginning of the story she is full of wonder and excitement of the world, but the person she shares that with goes away (dies, or so it is implied by just an empty chair). The absence of this figure causes her to put her heart in a bottle, but the consequences of locking away, protecting that precious heart is a loss of passion and love that she felt as a child. It is not until she sees the wonder and enthusiasm of another child that she realizes what she has been missing by closing herself off to the world. Here I take so many words just to explain this story, but Jeffers uses just enough. His pictures fill in the details causing me to feel more than just read. That is what Jeffers does with all of his stories. It seems as though he is trying to tell us, to remind us, that books, especially illustrated books, should show us the emotions and not just tell us how to feel them.
Age Group: Perhaps 4/5 and up – DEFINITELY FOR ADULTS dealing with grief and loneliness
Genre: Illustrated Book
Themes: Loneliness, Loss, Grief, Imagination, Emotions,
Publisher: Philomel Books, Imprint of Penguin Putnam
Wonderful books by Oliver Jeffers: