Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers  (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

What happens when we try to protect ourselves from getting hurt by locking our hearts away?  The story starts with a young girl happily curious about her world, engaged, creative, dreamy, joyful, and loving.  She loves being read to, and imagines a thousand things from the words she hears.  She watches the stars, combs the beach and explores the world with wonder.

Broken Heart

Then one day she experiences the loss of someone important to her.  It’s not specified who, but the chair that was previously occupied by her father or grandfather is shown suddenly empty, on a quiet day. Heartbroken, she responds by shutting down all her joy and love, forgetting how to play and dream. She literally locks her heart away in a glass bottle to protect it. We see her getting older and more serious.


It’s only when she comes across another little girl on a beach that she realises she needs her heart to have fun and see the world in all it’s colour.  She can’t free her heart on her own, she needs to reach out for help to do so. The lesson that no matter how scary it can be to risk getting hurt or losing people we love, it’s important we keep our hearts open and ready to experience everything, is powerful and pertinent. 

This is one of our favourite Oliver Jeffers books – a simple and heartfelt tale of grief and recovery that will speak to the hearts of children and parents alike.

If you love Oliver Jeffers try his other books too.

Listen to a reading of The Heart and the Bottle here. 




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