Cover image for Bottle houses : the creative world of Grandma Prisbrey
Bottle houses : the creative world of Grandma Prisbrey
Slaymaker, Melissa Eskridge.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 2004.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 27 cm
An introduction to the world of folk artist Grandma Prisbrey.
Reading Level:
AD 850 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.4 0.5 79930.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.7 3 Quiz: 40185 Guided reading level: Q.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK512.P75 S58 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
NK512.P75 S58 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
NK512.P75 S58 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



Being inside one of Grandma Prisbrey's houses was like being inside a rainbow or a kaleidoscope or a jewel.

A vibrant portrait of American visionary artist Grandma Prisbrey

The walls of Grandma Prisbrey's houses glowed and glittered with color because she made them out of bottles. Large and small, fancy and plain, Grandma Prisbrey salvaged every bottle she could find.
Soon people started calling Grandma Prisbrey an artist. "I can't even draw a car that looks like one," she said. "But I guess there are different kinds of art." Lush and lyrical, this is an evocative introduction to the world of visionary, or untrained, art.

Author Notes

Melissa Eskridge Slaymaker was inspired to write this book by a visit to Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village in California. Ms. Slaymaker lives with her husband and daughter in Knoxville, Tennessee. This is her first book for children.

Julie Paschkis visited Bottle Village before starting this book. A painter and illustrator of several highly acclaimed books, she lives and works in Seattle, Washington.

Visit Melissa Eskridge Slaymaker and Julie Paschkis at their websites: and

For more information on The Bottle Village visit theIR Web site at:

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1-3. As an introduction to the genre variously known as outsider art, self-taught art, or visionary art, Grandma Prisbrey serves the purpose well. Her whimsical creation, a whole village of houses made of multicolored glass bottles gathered from the dump, will engage children, as will her endearing eccentricities (she dyed her cats pink, blue, and yellow). Bright and riotous in the Mairaalman vein, Paschkis' watercolors depict Prisbrey at work surrounded by lovely folk-art metaphors for her fertile creativity: twining vines, giant unfurling flowers, and flocks of birds. The text by newcomer Slaymaker is lively enough, though it does little more than string together homespun quotes from Prisbrey herself (They call me an artist . . . even though I can't draw a car that looks like one ) with hardly any biographical context. Concluding photographs are accompanied by an endnote explaining that Prisbrey's creation was damaged by a 1994 earthquake and directing curious readers to visit the Preserve Bottle Village Web site, an excellent resource that fills in details missing from the book itself. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The title character's Bottle Village is a real place, and this spirited biography-Slaymaker's debut-describes its creation and its resourceful creator. Readers observe Grandma Prisbrey as she covers her scant third of an acre with eccentric, captivating structures built of glass bottles (which made her an unwitting hero both to folk art enthusiasts and to environmentalists). "What some people throw away," says Grandma Prisbrey, "I could wear to church." In matter-of-fact prose, Slaymaker recalls Grandma Prisbrey's unconventional early life traveling with her family in a trailer-even then she was a collector. When the woman decides to settle down, she soon realizes that the city dump and its thousands of bottles could provide her with building material: "all she had to buy was cement to hold them together." Fun asides offer insight into the heroine's offbeat humor ("A dairy inspector told me it's against the law to use milk bottles for anything but milk, so I quit using those.... I've got plenty without them"). Taking a cue from the woman's kaleidoscopic architecture, Paschkis renders Grandma Prisbrey's village in a series of multi-textured patchwork planes studded with gem-like reds, greens and blues. The mosaic motif extends as far as the skirts of visitors and the wings of butterflies. The actual photographs of the village in the final two-page afterword almost pale beside Paschkis's versions. Young readers who, like Grandma Prisbrey, "can't draw a car that looks like one," will be cheered by her off-handed reaction to her reputation as an artist: "I guess there are different kinds of art." Ages 5-9. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 5-From trash to treasure, this is the story of how visionary 20th-century artist Grandma (Tressa) Prisbrey built Bottle Village in Simi Valley, CA. Ostensibly begun to house her extensive pencil collection, the village grew to include a chapel, a pyramid of headlights, and a round house (with a round bed, dresser, and mirror inside). Prisbrey used bottles retrieved from a nearby dump, mixed with cement, to create her remarkable structures. On her trips there, she also amassed a huge doll collection, which she built a house for, and other materials that she used in her structures. As the number of visitors grew, she constructed a sidewalk from broken tiles and other found objects, including a license plate, bottle caps, and buttons. Appropriately, Paschkis's artwork glows with color, just as the bottles that formed the village are described as sparkling and glowing. The bright gouache illustrations float against white backgrounds, giving them a folk-art quality. Curving flowers and flying birds convey a sense of movement and energy that complements the lively text. Direct quotes from Prisbrey add immediacy to the narrative. Photographs of Bottle Village and a short biography are appended. The idea of making something beautiful and unique from what others see as worthless has innate child appeal. This lovely book introduces youngsters to an artist and type of art that may be completely unknown to them.-Robin L. Gibson, formerly at Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.