A Meditation on Solitary Existence in “The Uncorker Of Ocean Bottles”

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Myra here.

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.


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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

1 Comment on A Meditation on Solitary Existence in “The Uncorker Of Ocean Bottles”

  1. I have to find that, Myra! It looks so touching. Thanks 🙂

    Like

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