Death in a Bottle

The Brown Bottle coverThe Brown Bottle

Submitter: Found this in storage (at least that’s our saving grace – this wasn’t on the shelf!) of a small town public library. I have now weeded it. It’s a picture book about a caterpillar who is an alcoholic. And dies instead of changing into a butterfly. While I get what they were going for, it’s sort of horrifying. What kind of person would read this to a small child??

Holly: WTF? Seriously. W. T. F.

brown bottle

winter in the bottle

butterflies in the spring

Charlie died


  1. This is just sick. And not with alcoholism. . . the depths of the bottle hold the utopia he sought—the bottle didn’t care—the day of The Promise—this one needs to be shredded.

  2. That’s a hell of a allegory for a child to wrap his or her head around. The writing is actually fairly effective and impactful, but I think it would be better served as a story specifically targeted to and read by teenage or adult alcoholics (or potential alcoholics). You wouldn’t even have to change the wording, just the book design.

  3. Growing up in an alcoholic home I didn’t need this book to see the affect of alcohol on the family. However, I think it is a worthy boom to make available. Who knows, it may save someone from a terrible lifestyle.

  4. My first reaction to the book cover was, “What a cute picture, what could possibly be wrong with *reads description* ohhh my…!” O_O

  5. “Why YES! THAT’s Charlie! He turned into a green butterfly! He kept warm in a bottle all winter! When is library day?” (This is another 362.2 that shouldn’t be shelved in E)

  6. The publisher is listed as Hazelden, which presumably is associated with the rehab center. So it may have had some pretty specific audiences in mind. (The ’80s was also the era of this stuff.)

  7. The thing you give to children of alcoholics is “the caterpillar dies alone”??? That’s not gonna mess them up or anything!

  8. Wow. That is very deep, especially for a child! At first I thought it was going to be about a worm in the bottle of tequila. That in itself is not exactly a children’s story but my gosh. This is tragic!!

  9. I grew up with two alcoholic parents and I did end up losing them both to alcoholism in my late twenties. This is a very powerful, poignant book but I’ll be darned if I’ll ever let my son, who was born after my parents were both already gone, see this even if he wants to know what happened to them. Just…wow.

  10. Dear god that was bleaker than a Steve McQueen movie. (McQueen the director, not the actor…)
    It’s a strong message all right, but I really can’t fathom handing this to a child.

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