cover image The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

Michelle Cuevas, illus. by Erin E. Stead. Dial, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3868-3

The eccentric seaman of the title lives alone in a tumbledown beach cottage: “He had no name. He had no friends. He stank of seaweed,” writes Cuevas (Confessions of an Imaginary Friend). By bringing the messages he finds floating in bottles on the waves to nearby villagers, his life gains meaning. Some messages are “written by a quill dipped in sadness,” while others “made people quite happy, for a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.” One day he uncorks an invitation to a seashore party. No one claims it, but when he ventures shyly to the beach, those he has served serenade him; he even tries dancing. Caldecott Medalist Stead’s (A Sick Day for Amos McGee) ethereal spreads give the characters distinctive, captivating personalities. In one, the Uncorker sits at his table in his fisherman’s cap, lost in a dream; in another, an older woman closes her eyes, transported with joy by the letter she receives. The underlying message about learning to see the worth of every person is a treasure. Ages 4–8. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Aug.)