Ever since I saw this picturebook shared by trusted friends in the blogosphere, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I am glad to have found it in our libraries.
The Uncorker Of Ocean Bottles
Written by: Michelle Cuevas Illustrated by: Erin E. Stead
Published by: Dial Books For Young Readers, 2016 ISBN: 0803738684 (ISBN13: 9780803738683)
Borrowed a copy from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
The Uncorker Of Ocean Bottles had one job in the world. He needed to keep an eye out for a “glint of glass” that would indicate a message is floating out into the sea – and for him to deliver it to the recipient.
His is a quiet, solitary life that derives meaning from letters that find its way to people whose faces light up from messages “written by a quill dipped in sadness.”
In his heart of hearts, though, the uncorker of ocean bottles sometimes wishes that he would receive a message all his own.
But then he remembered that this was about as likely as finding a mermaid’s toenail on the beach. For he had no name. He had no friends. He stank of seaweed and salt and fishermen’s feet. No one would ever write him a letter.
Those lines stuck with me. Imagine being this man with only a cat for company, staring out into the window, longing for a letter that never comes. Until one day, he received a cryptic message about a party at the seashore during the evening tide – but he does not know who the letter is for, let alone who sent it.
Erin Stead’s art here is remarkable, and so is Michelle Cuevas’ lyrical text that perfectly captured the subtleties and nuances of solitude and solitary existence – and what it means to find a mysterious message on the beach that is enough to lift one’s spirit, and may even serve to be life-changing, in the long run. A beautiful, quiet story that would not fail to tug at one’s heartstrings.