the uncorker of ocean bottles + ocean bottle valentine necklace

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The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, written by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2016).

The main character from the title is a mail carrier, only he delivers letters he finds floating in bottles found at sea.

What a fanciful idea for a picture book!

(According to press materials I received, Michelle Cuevas got the idea when she read: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I had created a formal role of the ‘Uncorker of Ocean Bottles’ to make sure that naval secrets sent via bottle did not fall into the wrong hands.”)

 

 

 

 

The illustrations alternate between and sometimes combine the green-blue of the sea and the rusty yellow rays of the sun. I can almost smell the seaweed and salty air. And the language is full of poetry.

 

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The main character is a man who delivers ocean bottle-mail, but believes he will never receive any himself. But how he wants to! The Uncorker doesn’t even have a name. He is lonely.

 

“…for a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.”

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One day, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles collects a letter from the sea with no recipient named. It’s a party invitation, for tomorrow evening at the seaside—and so The Uncorker’s quest begins!

 

 

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This is a story of kindness repaid, of connection made, of community convening.  Of a heart, once empty, now “a glass vessel filled to the brim.” Everyone deserves some music and a seaside dance, don’t you think?

 

Big thanks to Dial Books for images!

 

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I’m delighted to be hosting crafter and author, Margaret Bloom—her son was her assistant and you’ll see his hands in the photos! Margaret’s come up with a sweet, enchanting ocean bottle necklace craft.

Over to her!

 

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles celebrates not only the joy of sending and receiving letters, but also the joy of acceptance within a community. This is a perfect story to share with children in anticipation of Valentine’s Day when all are encouraged to create and deliver their own messages of friendship and love.

There are many beautiful lines in this book, but one of the sweetest reminds us that “a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.” And so in each little necklace-bottle created by my son, he placed a pearl… a tiny treasure hidden among the glittering ocean within each bottle. And when he offers these necklaces on Valentine’s Day, they will be accompanied by small, hand-written messages of his own, expressing friendship and love.

 

 

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img_5574What you need:

Tiny glass bottles, 2 cm tall (we used these)

Thin cord or ribbon

Glitter or tiny confetti

Pearl beads

Adhesive tape

Paper scrap, approx. 3 cm x 6 cm

Glue (optional)

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First, curl the paper scrap around the tip of your finger and secure with adhesive tape in the shape of a small funnel. Then hold the tip of your funnel in the mouth of the bottle and pour in a small bit of glitter (or tiny, iridescent/metallic confetti). Drop in a pearl bead. Insert cork into top of bottle (glueing the cork in place is optional), and seal with a wish.

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Then measure a length of ribbon long enough to loop over a person’s head, plus extra for tying knots (we cut our ribbons approx. 40 cm long). Wrap the mid-point of the ribbon 2-3 times around the neck of the bottle and knot tightly. Then knot the ends of the ribbon together.

Last, write a note to accompany your gift, and delight a friend by giving them a magical necklace on Valentine’s Day (or any other day!).

 

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Margaret Bloom has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and is the author of two books: Making Peg Dolls (Hawthorn Press UK, 2013), and Making Peg Dolls & More (Hawthorn Press UK, 2015). She lives with her husband & children in a small cottage beneath the great oak trees of Northern California, and when she is not busy reading, buttering toast, and searching for lost socks, she spends her time working on a third book.  You can visit her at We Bloom Here to read about more things which bring her joy and inspiration.

 

 

 

Many thanks, Margaret! 

 

 

 

15 Responses to the uncorker of ocean bottles + ocean bottle valentine necklace

  1. Wendy Wahman says:

    Ooh, love this book and the project is perfect for a birthday party.

  2. mariagianferrari says:

    It’s such a gorgeous book, both the writing and the art. And I love the sentiment too. We need to spread kindness more than ever these days, so thanks for the lovely post, Danielle!

  3. Love this sea-salt tale of community and the sweet craft. Little bottles of sparkle and stars! Tiny treasure. Thank you, Danielle and Margaret Bloom!

  4. What a beautiful book and fabulous idea! It’s interesting to hear how the story for this book was born. The mystery of military secrets bobbing in the sea. I love it! And the sweet project is perfect for little valentines.

  5. Julie Murphy says:

    “clam-hugged pearl” is simply beautiful! I will try to keep that warm and gentle imagery with me all through the day today.

  6. Very sweet! I think Uncorker is Amos McGee’s long lost half brother…

  7. aaaaah so happy you did this one – i saw it at the bookstore and was like whoa. this is lovely and special. beautiful post and the bottles are enchanting!

  8. Cathy Ogren says:

    This is such a beautiful book. Love the necklace!

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