Matthews, K.V. and Vallone, J. (2014). The Boy and the Bottle. Self-published.
Children / Picture Book / Recycle / Responsibility
I gave the this book 4 out of 5 stars
(3 for editing, 5 for story)
After Jimmy finishes a bottle of milk, he decides to fill it with water to take on his walk to Grandma's house. Along the way and at Grandma's, too, Jimmy discovers that the bottle can be used and re-used in all kinds of interesting ways instead of just thrown in the trash. Authors Kendra Vallone Matthews and Jim Vallone give kids some great motivation to find ways to re-purpose everyday items in their own lives.
I love the premise of a boy using his imagination and thinking creatively about re-using a common item instead of just throwing it away. The bottle appears to be glass, which would be odd where I come from -- and the mom in me was cringing at the idea of a little boy carrying around a glass bottle -- but I imagine most kids reading the book wouldn't think about those things. The gentle protagonist Jimmy, who is eight, is an excellent model for readers to emulate. Beyond the lesson in recycling, Jimmy displays actions that are caring, thoughtful, and responsible -- and it's all adorably drawn by illustrator Tanya Laporte.
Laporte's illustrations are wonderfully bright and cheerful, and characters all have pleasant expressions. The only oddity was that balloons were floating in the air when they had been inflated by mouth, and my guess is most kids would notice. Perhaps that could just add to the plethora of talking points and teachable moments for parents to discuss with young readers.
Where the book could improve is in the writing. Commas are used inconsistently (sometimes Oxford, sometimes not), there was a run-on sentence with a misplaced modifier that caused some confusion, and a word missing from another sentence. Hopefully these errors will be cleaned-up in future prints, which would make the book worthy of a solid five stars.
Despite the errors, the delightful illustrations, unique premise, and subtle lessons make this book worth a look. I would recommend it for second or third graders to read independently. Or, as a read aloud in the classroom, there are loads of possible applications.
Thank you to the author who provided me a print copy in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give.
About the Author: Kendra is a new book author who co-wrote The Boy and the Bottle with her dad, Jim Vallone. She is a communications and marketing graduate of USC. She is a professional golfer, she founded a nationally acclaimed sweets company, and works marketing in the medical field. She is passionate about writing and looks forward to seeing more of her ideas come to life through books. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband and young son.
CONNECT WITH KENDRA VALLONE MATTHEWS: