16 Ounces of Kid Lit

Alison Morris - February 21, 2008

The other day at the gym I suddenly realized I was staring right at the subject of a new ShelfTalker post. No, it wasn’t Spandex that caught my eye (though I’ve love to try to find a way to work in THAT theme!). It was my water bottle.

My take-to-the-gym water bottle happens to be one that I purchased a few years ago at Powell’s, the venerable independent bookselling institution headquartered in Portland, Ore. Powell’s sells several different water bottles (mystery, outdoor lit, modern art, mathematics, philosophy, literature), but the one I own (go figure) is the kids’ bottle, which holds 16 ounces of liquid, making it half the size of the others.

Below is a photo of  my Powell’s bottle on a (shamefully dusty… how embarrassing) bookshelf. It looks like a typical 16 oz. Nalgene bottle, no?

No indeed! This is not a typical Nalgene bottle. If you read the fine print on the front side, you see that the details look like this:

In case you can’t comfortably read those details, I’ve reprinted them for you here:

Suggested Serving Sizes:

Serving Size: 15 pages
Servings Per Bottle: About 4

Suggested Daily Reading *
Excitement   34%
Fun   23%
Magic   26%
Suspense   17%

*Serving sizes are based on a 60 page per week diet

The fluid ounce markings on the back of the bottle, though, are what I think REALLY sets this one apart.  Beside each of the fluid ounce markings is the name of an author whose books are typically read by kids at the age corresponding with that number:

Again, in case it’s too small to read on your monitor, the printing looks like this (from the bottom to the top):
At the 4 ounce mark = Seuss
At the 6 ounce mark = Sendak
At the 8 ounce mark = Lobel
At the 10 ounce mark = Pilkey
At the 12 ounce mark = Cleary
At the 14 ounce mark = L’Engle
At the 16 ounce mark = Hinton

I’m assuming "Lobel" refers to Arnold, but who says Anita can’t take the credit? I could quibble a bit over the idea that 12 year-olds are reading Beverly Cleary, but why bother? Cleary grew up in Portland, so I certainly don’t question the need to have her name *somewhere* on this vessel. Besides that, does anyone ever really outgrow Ramona Quimby?

Still, every time I look at that bottle I try to figure out who I’d put beside each of those volume markings, were I in charge of a similar bottle’s creation. It’s pretty hard to whittle down the list of potential names to just one per age level! Who would make it onto YOUR bottle list?

20 thoughts on “16 Ounces of Kid Lit

  1. Lauren

    That’s interesting. I have a Powell’s Kids Lit Nalgene bottle in front of me at this very moment, but there is one very big difference between my bottle and your bottle: where your bottle says “Hinton”, my bottle says “Paolini”. Obviously, I have a newer bottle than you do. I wonder when they switched the names.

  2. ShelfTalker

    Wow. How intriguing! Amazing to think that Paolini has so quickly become a Hinton replacement to someone. Or that they’d select Paolini for 16 year-olds? Personally I think I’d be more Cormier or Crutcher inclined for that age group. Funny too that they changed one name (making it more contemporary) but not any of the others… Hmm. Will have to see if a Powell’s colleague can shed some light on their bottle list decision-making process!

  3. ShelfTalker

    Kat, If you click on the word “sells” that appears in red in the second paragraph it’ll take you directly to Powell’s bottle-selling page. On that page the kids’ bottles (now available in blue or pink) are pictured second and third from the bottom.

  4. Spellbound

    Sadly, I don’t go to the gym enough to have a going to the gym water bottle, but the one I put on my nightstand every night is a pink one of these, and mine says Paolini. I also questioned how that name fit with the others chosen, and I have to say I had not made the connection between the ounces and ages. I think I would tweak it by putting Cleary at 8 (she needs to be there with or without the Portland connection), L’Engle at 10, Rowling at 12, restore Hinton but at 14, and out in Salinger at 16. (Or is that cheating?)

  5. Michael from Brooklyn

    I can’t live without my Powells water bottle. I use it everyday at lunch. Instead of getting a bottled water, I fill my bottle up. So, not only am I promoting wonderful children’s writers, I am promoting a cleaner, less wasterful environment. How very Portland!

  6. Jill Saginario

    Alison, As the official Powell’s Employee and devoted Shelf Talker reader, I can attest to the fact that yes, these days, Paolini does take the 16 OZ slot. I couldn’t tell you why they decided to make the switch from Hinton to Paolini (perhaps, as Laura suggested, because Paolini wrote Eragon at age 16, who knows). And of course, I couldn’t live without my Kids Lit bottle either!

  7. Jill Saginario

    P.S. after showing this blog entry to some of my coworkers, they pointed out that when designing the Nalgene bottle, they didn’t actually intend to correspond the authors to OZ numbers as ages–otherwise, of course Cleary would be at 8!

  8. ShelfTalker

    How funny, Jill! I just *assumed* the number of ounces was supposed to correspond with readers’ ages! All this time I’ve been thinking those Powell’s bottle originators were so wickedly clever for making the association between those two, but now it turns out that I’M the wickedly clever one?? That idea is all mine?? Rock on! ; ) Oh for the budget to print Booksmith bottles with ounces corresponding to ages!

  9. Jude

    I wish I could give one to my granddaughter, but the DIL would throw it in the trash due to Nalgene–may mess with female hormones. Powells, please take note so that I can buy version 2.0.


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