Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Heart and the Bottle

Jeffers, Oliver (Author/Illustrator)
HarperCollins 2011. 32 pages
First published: 2010
ISBN: 9780007182343 (paperback)
9780007410552 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, figurative language, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This is the touching story of an ordinary girl “whose head was filled with all the curiosities of the world.” That is, until death takes away the most important person in her life. Suddenly, she must confront the ominous “empty chair” and her passion for all that is awesome dries up. In order to protect herself, she seals her heart in a bottle, and in doing so, cuts herself off from the wonders that once filled her. But something special happens when she encounters a little girl on the beach, one who reminds her of her younger self.

Minimalist features include sparse text and simple mixed-media illustrations, providing an interesting counterpoint to the weighty subjects of death and loss that it addresses. The narrative’s open-endedness, allowing for multiple interpretations, invites readers of all ages to absorb the book in their own unique way.

On one level, the book is about seizing the day. On another, it teaches the important lesson that when bad things happen, we can either build a protective wall around ourselves or try to continue finding joy in living. This book celebrates the poetry of life and death and everything in between.

  •  

    Discuss what you think the story is about. Why was the main character unable to free her heart? What was it about the little girl that enabled her to enjoy life again? 

  •  

    Why it is important to talk about loss, grief and sadness? Identify people, places and resources you could turn to under similar circumstances.

  •  

    Unbottle your thoughts and create a collage of things that interest you, that you have wondered about or that you would like to learn more about. Write a caption for your art piece.

  •  

    Before reading, hypothesize as to why one might put a heart into a bottle.

  •  

    Write about activities you used to enjoy before (e.g. before you got older, before you moved away, before you lost someone special).

  •  

    Draw a mind map of things you are curious about. Label your ideas. When sharing, add the names of classmates who share the same curiosity.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Visual Arts