The Heart and the Bottle

It’s been a while since I got the time to do some reviews, I have been struggling to get posts done at all, performing this precarious juggling dance that tries to take in writing my book with extensive reading (of books, glorious books) and then also composing blog posts and reading others.

That’s when I’m not doing all of those mummy tasks (in my case they would be alternatively Mum-Pig tasks or Mum Mum tasks, depending on whether you’re talking about Boodi or Lady) and the merry-go-round of therapies and daycare and special needs playgroup. You know the drill.

There are always books of every kind around this house, both of my children love them, they seem to be Boodi’s special interest, but he doesn’t let me read to him, and Lady prefers battered board books about cars, or paperback The Wiggles songbooks, not meant for narration. So my secret pleasure is buying gorgeous children’s books for my own pleasure when I get the chance, hoping that one or either of my two will come to love them in time, but if not, I have plenty of affection to bestow on them myself. These are two books that I have recently added to our bookshelves, and they are truly lovely.

Peter and The Wolf by Ayesha. L. Rubio

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You may have grown up with a little experience of this Russian tale from the mid 1930s. Perhaps, like me, you went to a performance of the play as a child. That is how it was originally written, it has it’s own score.

It’s the tale of a clever little boy and a small menagerie of forest animals, along with Peter’s grandfather and some hunters. The original story has them all in a zoo at the end, with the duck living on in perpetuity inside the Wolfs tummy (spoiler: the wolf eats the duck), you can hear him quacking away if you be quiet and listen.

In this modern day adaptation, no animals were harmed, and the ending is a happier affair, though there is  still some duck swallowing by that wolf, but Peter’s negotiation skills (and his grandfather’s too) save the day.

You can just tell immediately that this tale is set in Russia, of a certain time, by the illustrations which feature round fur hats and old fashioned muskets. I took one look at these illustrations when I came across a review online, and knew that this was something special, and it really, truly is.

After you read it to your children, you can go looking for the score and hum it under your breath all day…

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The Heart and The Bottle by Oliver Jeffers

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I don’t think I have ever met an Oliver Jeffers book that I didn’t love, but this one is possibly my favourite. I picked it up in a local bookshop to take a flick through and it made me cry! If you know me, you might know that books that make me cry are right up my alley, so I bought it right away.

This is a book about grief as seen through a child’s eyes. In this particular instance it is grief for the loss of a beloved grandparent, but I think that you could easily read it as grief for anything or anyone lost, because it is about what grief feels like, and how it can kill beauty and wonder. Grief is manifested  by an empty chair and a guarded heart.  Her heart is safe from fear and everything else, even the wonderful things, until a friend helps this little girl to release her heart again.

I think this is a great book for any child, but if a child has experienced grief, then I can’t recommend The heart and the Bottle strongly enough.

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Linking up with #FYBF over at With Some Grace today