The Heart Shaped Bottle by Oliver Jeffers-A Story of Grief and Loss


Oliver Jeffers is a writer and illustrator of exceptional talent. He is one of my favourite illustrators and when I first came across his works it delighted me to know he comes from these very shores of Ireland. His illustration style is quirky and colourful. His stories are also entertaining. The Heart Shaped Bottle is a book I hold dear but it is not my favourite Jeffers story, that place is held for Stuck or This Moose Belongs To Me , I can never chose which book I prefer more.


The Heart Shaped Bottle is an endearing story of a young girl who is full of the wonders of the world. Her grandfather is her facilitator in this regard, answering the curiosities that fill a young child. One day her dear grandfather is no longer around( she finds an empty chair one day where her grandfather used to sit, as seen below) The young girl is so distraught that she ‘takes’ out her heart and puts it in a bottle to be safe for the rest of her life so no one can hurt her again. An amusing story ensues where the protagonist tries to figure out how to unlock her heart once again from the bottle.


I liked this book because of the colours and the patterns. Jeffers mixes photographs with illustration to give the story a surreal look. An example of this is in the below picture.


As with all his books, the story takes on the bizarre as the main character goes through all sorts of ways to break the bottle surrounding her heart. There is a great sense  of wackiness in the book and this is perfectly demonstrated in the below picture. It is a picture I look at frequently as it is packed with random objects and animals, you spot new items each time you look at it. The tale itself is a very poignant one and could be a useful book for a parent trying to explain the loss of a loved one to a child. In my opinion, this story is one of grief and what we must do to overcome the sense of loss in our lives.


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