The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles: A Picture Book Review

“The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles lived alone on a high spot with only one tree for shade. He always kept his eyes on the waves, watchful for a glint of glass.”

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas and Erin E. SteadThe Uncorker of Ocean Bottles has a very important job. It’s his responsibility to open any bottles found in the seawater and make sure they are delivered.  He wishes that he would receive a letter himself. But he knows that’s impossible when he doesn’t have a name.

When the Uncorker of Ocean Bottles receives a bottle with an invitation to a party with no recipient, he isn’t sure what to do. He asks everyone in town but no one recognizes the invitation.

He hopes he can deliver the invitation in time, but along the way discovers that sometimes parties–and friends–don’t need invitations to be wonderful in The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles (2016) by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead.

What could be a melancholy and lonely story is elevated to a more whimsical and satisfying plane with Cuevas’ text. While this story begins with a solitary deliverer of bottles, it ends with a small community coming together for a party. The serendipity and charm with which this story builds to that outcome is incredibly pleasing to follow.

This story is ideal for older picture book readers who like their stories to have a bit of mystery. Readers never do learn who, exactly, sent the bottle. And the nature of the Uncorker’s job can be a bit dizzying. Perfect for readers who are fans of both The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles is a strange, otherworldly picture book. Stead’s inimitable art style works well here to bring the Uncorker and his corner of the world to life. Desaturated colors and a light touch in each drawing further underscore that this story is something special.

*An advance copy of this title was acquired from the publisher for review consideration at BEA*

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