The Heart and the Bottle (Oliver Jeffers. HarperCollins, 2010)
The topics of loss, grief and love are quietly confronted in this Oliver Jeffers gem. Although the subject matter is weighty, a journey through this picture book, featuring a young girl who loses her attentive father figure, feels remarkably light. Jeffers achieves this through his sweet and often humour-infused illustrations. As well, to protect her heart after experiencing loss, the main character literally wears it in a bottle around her neck for many years, which is a bit awkward during many daily activities. The minimalist approach to drawing the facial features of the protagonist also alleviates any heavy doses of ‘glum’. The events leading to the main character’s return to a peaceful, wonder-filled life add to this picture book’s kid-friendliness and take it from good to great. The vitality of the final spread make this book phenomenal.