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Those Bottles Hardcover – April 13, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nostalgia for 1940s and '50s America shines through in this odd and otherwise murky tale. The Bottle family, a traditional unit of mother, father, three kids and a cat, are, quite literally, bottles. Trouble begins when the Bottles move to a town populated by humans. After setting up a glassworks to make bottles by hand (and, presumably, to convert users of drab "crushable cans"), the Bottles find that their strange appearances bother the townsfolk. Their unpopularity continues until a flood imperils the town: the industrious Bottles become heroes by filling vessel after vessel until the water level drops. Despite his unique vision, Miller ( Dizzy from Fools ) fails to define the narrative logic. Root's ( The Araboolies of Liberty Street ) illustrations hold the most interest here. The artist paints in mustard yellow, piney green and pumpkin orange tones, bathing his spreads in a rich, sunset-like glow. This color choice proves particularly effective in scenes of glassblowing, and heightens the overall retro feel. Ultimately, however, only serious antiquers and devotees of vintage craftsmanship will be much charmed--and those categories tend to exclude children. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2-A family of bottle people moves to a bottleless city of humans and are snubbed because they are different. But when a dam breaks, the Bottles come to the rescue: they distribute their glass creations to the neighbors, who fill them with flood water and stack them into a great, glittering monument. Rewarded with medals for saving the city, the family is finally accepted. Two-page, jewel-toned paintings cleverly contrast their bottle-shaped house, car, and bottled groceries with the can-shaped buildings, cars, and food containers of the humans. Pure fantasy that it is, the story has some flaws that children will quickly notice. Why, for example, can't the cat curl up if the other members of the family can move about? Colloquial expressions, e.g., the children "had a hollow, left-out feeling, except at Halloween," will be wasted on a young audience. The theme of accepting those who are different (can one be prejudiced against a bottle?) is more creatively presented in books such as David Small's Paper John (Farrar, 1987). The idea of an inventive, clever glass container seems a bit empty- even for the most imaginative child.
Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Hardcover: 15 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (April 13, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399226079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399226076
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,445,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ulyyf on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Let's state first and foremost that the illustrations in this book are really very nice. They can make you believe in walking, talking bottles... including a baby with a bottle nipple for a hat and a cat who can't curl up.

But the story... I don't think it holds together that well. It's one of those "picked on person/group of people has a special talent that saves the day!" stories. As a general rule, I'm not a fan of those. The message always seems to be intended to be "everybody has a special gift" or "don't snub your neighbors", but it usually - as in this book - comes out sounding like "it's okay to dislike somebody for what they are because if you make nice-nice to them when you NEED them, they'll help you anyway". And that's... that's not really a very nice message at all. Though it might be the truth.

This is made worse by the fact that the Bottles (who come from a land of bottles... where, we can only hope, they actually do have more than one last name) moved to this human city specifically to evangelicize about how great bottles are. (Interestingly, the neighbors specifically snub them for acting like bottles, not for *being* bottles - presumably, if they'd had any intent to conform they would've been fine.) Well, no matter how nice somebody is, I don't much like being preached to either... and really, how can this be translated to real life? That weird kid you made fun of in school wasn't there to show you he was better than you, he was there because he had to be there, whether he was better than you or not!

Anyway, there's a typically contrived ending wherein the dam breaks and bottles are needed to hold up all the water, so the Bottles do that and save the day and everybody is friends and then the cat curls up yay. Saw that coming.

It's not the worst book of this style that I've read, but really, you can do better. If you want a book about not fitting in (but being valued anyway) try Tacky the Penguin.
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Format: Hardcover
My kids, ages 6 and 3.5, loved this charming book almost as much as I did. It's the story of the Bottle family, who moves to a town populated by humans living in can houses. But the Bottles are not well received.

"Those bottles! Why can't they be like the rest of us? Why must they always go around acting like bottles?" When the Bottles save the town from destruction, the humans finally see the virtue of glass neighbors.

The wry narrative is accompanied by wonderful 1950's-style illustrations. This is the best children's book I read this year.
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