Posted by Venus on Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Labels: picture book review
Illustrations by Erin E. Stead
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: August 23, 2016
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles lives atop a hill, alone but with a very important job, to deliver the messages that arrive on his shore. He loves this job, although is a bit sad that he will never receive a message of his own. Then one day a message arrives without an address or a name. It is undeliverable and yet it is this message that allows him to make new friends. In essence, the message become his.
I have a hard time with books illustrated by Erin E. Stead. On the one hand, they are absolutely beautiful with soft colors that lend themselves well to the content. On the other, it seems that the kinds of books she writes and/or illustrates have a tendency to be these rather esoteric picture books that are sure to appeal to more adults than children. They'll be recognized for how pretty they are and the story, or lack thereof, falls to the wayside. This story was, in essence boring. Not a good thing for a short picture book to be. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles is a rather boring grown man who has no name, is unrelateable, and for reasons unknown has the very unimportant job of getting messages from bottles to their recipients. I love the idea of messages in a bottle, but I'm not sure that I care at all weather it gets to the intended person as those messages feel more like tying a note to a balloon. The intended recipient is the one who picks it up. The only children in the story show up halfway through, which is another reason why I think this book is not for children. And I think a lot of gatekeepers (aka the adults publishing and distributing this book) forget that sometimes. As it stands, it will probably win some kind of award and end up on many bookshelves, because beautiful picture books about boring people play to adult sensibilities rather than farting ponies or cakes that talk.