Mystery Bottle


I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map...

I understand the sentiment behind this book, but it's still rather strange. Basically, a little boy gets a package with a bottle in it and then he opens the bottle and a wind comes out of the bottle and blows him all the way across the sea, over mountains. He flies to the city where his father was born, to his grandfather's house, and then to his grandfather's arms. He has tea with his grandfather and asks him questions, and then afterwards they go up to the top of the tallest mountain and then the grandfather says, "Breathe in the wind and mix it with love and blow it into the bottle." And then he gives him a hug and says, "When you want a cup of tea, just open the bottle and the wind will bring you to me." The end.

After the story is a paragraph in a different style which talks about a man I assume is the author's husband who left Iran in 1978, leaving his father, and the father doesn't see him again for many years. The man calls his father and says he's gotten married, and then calls later and says he's had a son. After seven years, the father sends a package addressed to a boy of seven. It's unclear how much of that is true, but it says in the biography of the author that as a boy in 1978 her husband was put on a plane by his father. It may be based on her husband and son or might not. It's fairly vague.

It doesn't say in the story whether the boy has ever visited his grandfather before. It's a pretty book. Buildings and things like that are depicted as colored blocks almost like paper cutouts (but I think it was probably done digitally) and that's on top of a collage. There's a lot of maps, and the book will say something like "A package came for me early in the morning," and in the center there's an oblong shaped package, with the background being a washed out map of Iran. Up in the top corner it says, "The package," and it shows the postman giving the package to little boy. The postman has a wheelbarrow that says "US" on it, and underneath it it says "Cool tattoo," with an arrow pointing at the leg of the postman that has a spiral tattoo on it. There's a lot of tiny details, like the package having the full name of the child (who shares a last name with the author) and an address in Brooklyn.

The bottle in the images actually has a map in it. As the boy is flying in the wind out of his city, you can see a map of New York in the background of the images, and there are a lot of maps throughout. So maybe the real story is that the grandfather sent a map, and the journey is metaphorical? It kind of makes me think that it's a fable that the author wrote for her son and her family, and then she thought it was really good so she published it. The art is fascinating and in a nice style. I'm not that impressed by the story because it's almost too personal for me to care about, but it's cute anyhow.


Family is important even if they're far away.

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