Review of The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

by Michelle Cuevas
illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2016. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a lovely and poetical picture book. The story is simple, about the Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives by the sea.

He had a job of the utmost importance. It was his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure they were delivered.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles often has to travel far to deliver the messages.

Sometimes the messages were very old, crunchy like leaves in the fall.

Sometimes the messages were written by a quill dipped in sadness.

But most of the time they made people quite happy, for a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles does wish a message would come for him. Then one day a very peculiar message comes.

I’m not sure you will get this in time, but I am having a party.
Tomorrow, evening tide, at the seashore.
Will you please come?

He asks many people about the letter, if they recognize the script, but he is unable to deliver it. The first time he hasn’t been able to deliver a note.

As he fell asleep that night, the Uncorker decided to go to the seashore the next day. He would go, and apologize to the writer of the note.

Well, when he arrives, all the people he asked about the message have come, too.

They have quite a party by the seashore.

He decides to try to deliver the message again tomorrow.

Mind you, this is a picture book about which I have to let go of my logical objections. But it is so beautiful! Erin Stead’s art work is so peaceful and profound, and the language so lyrical and lovely. (“the waves tipped their white postman hats…”) It’s such a joyful experience, I’m not going to let little logical questions get in the way of my enjoyment, and I strongly suspect children won’t either.

Like most picture books, I recommend trying this book out to see for yourself the whole effect of the words plus the pictures. I suspect that you will be glad you did.

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Source: This review is based on a book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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