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The Heart and the Bottle Hardcover – March 4, 2010

46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A little girl delights in the boundless discoveries of the world around her with an older gentleman, likely her grandfather. But then the man’s chair is empty, and the girl puts her heart in a bottle to help with the hurt. As she grows older, she loses her sense of wonderment, and it isn’t until she meets another young girl that she finds a way to free her heart again. This book showcases some absolutely captivating artwork. The way in which Jeffers employs pictures in word balloons to convey the limberness of imagination is brilliant: the man points to the sky to talk about constellations, while the girl sees stars as inflamed bumblebees. But what begins promisingly runs into trouble, and it’s not clear who the message is directed toward: children just opening their eyes to the world, or parents who have lost their sense of curiosity? Even if children don’t glean much from the abstractions and subtleties of the narrative, they’re nevertheless in for a treat with the unforgettable visuals of imagination at play. Preschool-Grade 1. --Ian Chipman


"Heartbreaking, witty and filled with hope." --Kirkus

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books (March 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399254528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399254529
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Oliver Jeffers is an artist, designer, illustrator and writer from Northern Ireland.

From figurative painting, collage and installation to illustration and award winning picture-books, Oliver Jeffers practice takes many forms.

His distinctive paintings have been exhibited in multiple cities, including the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Brooklyn Museum New York.

HarperCollins UK and Penguin USA publish his picture books, now translated into over 30 languages, including The Incredible Book Eating Boy, and the New York Times Bestseller This Moose Belongs to Me and #1 New York Times Bestseller The Day The Crayons Quit.

Oliver won an Emmy in 2010 for his collaborative  work with artist and filmmaker Mac Premo. He has made art for Newsweek, The New York Times, United Airlines, TED, Nintendo, and has illustrated a a number of novels.

In 2007, Jeffers was the official illustrator for World Book Day.

Lost and Found became Oliver's first book to made into animation by London based Studio AKA, screening on Christmas Eve 2008 on Channel 4 in the UK and on Nickelodeon in the US and Australia.

In 2013, Jeffers illustrated the vinyl cover (a drawing of Nelson Mandela) for the U2 song "Ordinary Love". Jeffers also co-directed (with Mac Premo) the video for the U2 song "Ordinary Love".

Oliver was born in Port Hedland, Australia, grew up and was educated in Belfast Northern Ireland and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Julia R Herro on December 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
After reading some of the negative reviews, I felt compelled to write my own. The main complaint seems to be how the book is muddled in its message with an unclear audience. I believe however, this to be its strongest suit. In its ambiguity, it allows for all people regardless of age to embrace the uncertainty, the confusion of death. Children, at least my children did, will see what happens to those who shut themselves away. My 5 year old son compaired her heart "shut in a bottle" to learning to ride his bike. If he doesn't try, he'll never learn, but he may skin his knee or "bonk his head." There is pain in living, and the best lesson one can learn as early as possible is to accept it and look to the beautiful, the wonderful, the imaginative, to be appreciative and in awe of the beauty of life.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Drew on May 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was a lovely book, and appreciate Oliver Jeffers's ability to let the reader create their own story out of this simply told, and beautifully illustrated, tale.
It's not really clear if the chair is empty because the man died, or if he has just gone away for a while. Is he even the grandfather? My six year old interpreted the story her own way, that the man went on vacation, and didn't find the story sad at all.
I met Oliver Jeffers a few weeks ago, and asked him about this book in particular, and his answer was that he left it up to the reader to find their own story, which I like very much.
I definitely recommend this book, and all others by this amazing author/illustrator.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Velocity Chyaldd on July 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My mother showed this book to me recently and I fell in love with it.
It's simple yet profound, and I think it's a great book for anyone at
any age who is coping with loss. It gives a fresh perspective
on a painful subject. It's like a little dose of medicine.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By madeline audrey on December 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A joyful and curious child finds herself with a heart she must protect after she discovers her beloved grandfather's chair empty. Oliver Jeffers' newest book, The Heart and the Bottle, is by far his deepest message.

Those who are drawn to Jeffers' books because of the illustrations will not be disappointed! For the first time he starts out a book with "Once there was a girl" as opposed to most of his others which the main character is a boy. The simplicity and beauty of his artwork remains remarkably the same with this new character, however the girl creates a new personality amongst his paintings. Children and art-lovers everywhere will come again and again to The Heart and the Bottle to turn it's pages and admire the new friends on it's pages.

The storyline is a bit grim and unexpected from the cheerful and imaginative Oliver Jeffers, but the way he words it, it is perfect. He introduces us to a girl, and through the pictures we see her always with her grandfather. She is happy and full of wonder, until the day her grandfather's chair is empty (this is Jeffers' way of saying her grandfather had died). She wants to protect her heart so she puts it in a bottle for safe-keeping, unfortunately this causes her to loose all the joy and youth she once had. The book takes you through her life, until you find the very happy resolution that helped her regain her heart.

Although this book has a pleasant ending, it is a bleak journey to get there, so this book isn't recommended for the tenderhearted or for children who have not discovered the fact of death just yet. The Heart and the Bottle is a fantastic tool for children (and even adults) who have suffered a loss because it teaches a wonderful lesson of not to protect your heart so much that you loose trust and happiness.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daryl on April 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Picture books are a hard medium to judge - so often we automatically equate them with children, forgetting that a lot of time, effort and talent usually goes into their construction, and that there's really little more than public opinion standing in the way of them being called art.

The Heart in the Bottle would make a confusing gift for young children, but would make an excellent gift for anyone who has ever lost someone, suffered heart ache, renewed their sense of wonder in the world, or just loves a good story. The illustrations are absolutely enchanting! My favorite is one where the little girl and her grandfather sit star gazing as he patiently explains the workings of the cosmic balls of gas which she decides to re-envision as phosphorescent bumble bees. This isn't a story with a lot of words to it - nor does it need them. Jeffer's simple, yet striking images carry the story on more profoundly than any text could ever attempt to.

A few years ago I lost my grandmother whom I was very close to and decided to get a copy of this for my mother who was still having some trouble with her own mother's death. The day after this arrived at her house she called to tell me how much she loved it and how perfectly she thought it conveyed how she felt, not only about death but about moving on and I could tell that my mom had finally been shown something that had articulated recovery in a way that made sense to her. I would highly recommend this book to anybody looking for a tasteful and appropriate gift to a friend suffering from bereavement.
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