Woohoo! But also Boohoo! Today is the final day of the Picture Books 14:14 Challenge. I’ve learned so much from studying these picture books in terms of their strongest story elements, and I’ve discovered so many new books from reading other participants’ PB 14:14 blog reviews. Thanks, Christie, for putting it on, and for everyone who read my blog along the way and who shared their own picture book insights!
I discovered that the story element I referred to the most was theme, and I think it’s because theme strengthens a book for me more than any of the others. A book can thrive with lovable character, hilarious conflict, or innovative style, but theme is what the story is really all about. The theme is the heart of the story. And speaking of heart, here is one that’s all about heart, and that pulls at mine, The Heart and the Bottle.
Title: The Heart and the Bottle
Author & Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: Philomel Books, 2010
Once there was a girl, much like any other, whose head was filled with all the curiosities of the world.
The girl finds delight in the sea and the stars, until she experiences loss and finds herself alone in the world. To protect her heart, she takes it out and places it in a glass bottle, which she hangs around her neck.
Her heart is safe, but the girl no longer delights in the world around her. Plus, the bottle is awkward and heavy.
Older now, she comes across a girl who is curious about the world as she once was, and she decides she is ready to put her heart back where it belongs and talk to the girl. The problem is, she can’t get the heart back out of the bottle.
The girl has an idea, though, that may just help.
The theme of this book is the very reason that I love books. To remind us to take delight in and wonder at the world around us and to share our heart with others. Even though sometimes it hurts. A lot.
Keep reading and may your heart be unbottled.