'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 23 October 2010

Review: The Heart and the Bottle

Every once in a while there comes a talent who can do no wrong. Since his first book was published in 2004, Belfast author/ illustrator Jeffers has consistently created classic, utterly beautiful books honed purely from an endless soapstone of creative talent.

From the daffodil yellow cover to the endpapers scattered with 1940s fathers interacting warmly with their daughters, The Heart and the Bottle is a feat in modern picture book making. The colour, the achingly subtle sentiment, the imaginative splendour that tumbles from its pages… so glorious.

It’s very clear Jeffers writes and illustrates books straight from the heart – from an internal place that’s connected to spirit. This book's seemingly effortless, simple message and structure has such an emotional complexity, adults will tear-up while children sit in quiet wonder.

The story is about a little girl who is much like any other. Her mind is full of the world’s wonders, which she loves to share with her dad. Then, one day, as she rushes to show him a new drawing inspired by worldy wonder, Dad is no longer there. Where has gone, we never know. But gone he is.

And as the little girl’s heart hurts too much to stay contained in her body, she removes it and places it in a bottle, which she wears around her neck.

Over the years, the girl grows. And as she grows, with that detached heart in the bottle around her neck, she forgets about the world’s wonders. Until one day she meets a little girl on a beach – a girl just like she once was.

This little girl is filled with the wonder our heroine has forgotten… and this is when she knows she must open that bottle and reconnect with her heart.

But the bottle won’t break – no matter what she tries. And it takes the help of her new little friend to reconnect that heart to her chest – where it can once again beat in harmony with the wonders of the world.

Deeply touching, clever and visually eye-popping, this is one of my favourite picture books. Yes... ever. A heartfelt treasure.

Title: The Heart and the Bottle
Author/Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: HarperCollins, A$24.99RRP
Publication Date: 1 March 2010
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9780007182305
For ages: 0+
Type: Picture Book