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Ruby Bottle

Winner, IP Picks 2011 Best Junior Prose

When Amber discovers a dusty red bott le in her elderly neighbour’s shed, she knows at once that it’s meant to be hers. Then she meets the strange djinn that lives in the bottle, and is catapulted into an adventure she never imagined.

Amber’s had a few problems to deal with lately – bullies at school, a cranky teacher and her best friend moving away. Now at least she has a magical friend to talk to … if she can keep him safe.

Can Amber find the courage to deal with the bullying, make new friends and protect her djinn from harm?

And what’s the mysterious task she’ll have to perform that the djinn keeps hinting at?


Janet Reid

Janet Reid grew up on a dairy farm with hay
sheds and pigsties, old abandoned farm
machinery, and lots of open space. It was a
haven for hours of story weaving with her sister between milking cows, feeding calves and pigs, and sneaking milk for stray cats.

She went into teaching and taught in places
from the cane fields in Central Queensland to
Brisbane before retiring to concentrate on her
writing. She lives on the northern outskirts of
Brisbane with her husband, two sons and a very ‘human’ cat called Kelsey.




ISBN 9781921869402 (PB, 224pp)
127mm x 203mm

AU $17 US
GB £11 €13
ISBN 9781921869419 (ePub) – release date 15 Feb 2012 AU $10


GB £6 €7

"The bright colours and bold style of the cover of The Ruby Bottle invite readers to open the book to start the story. When Amber finds a dusty red glass bottle in the shed of her elderly neighbour, Mrs Heggety she feels certain that the bottle is meant for her to keep. It doesn’t take long before she discovers a secret: a curious djinn named Jimell lives in the beautiful red bottle. As she gets to know his story, he tells her that she must perform an important task but cannot say what it is.
While the story of the djinn in the bottle unfolds and the history of the bottle is revealed through Roger Heggety’s diary, another story interweaves through the narrative. Amber is lonely since her best friend, Bethany moved house and she is being bullied at school by Marissa and her friend, Rachel.
The two stories merge in a tale of mystery and adventure that subtly explores the theme of friendships and relationships: new and old friends as well as young and old friends. Jimell encourages Amber to believe in herself and through his friendship and that of a new friend, Ricco she gains confidence to be independent and achieve by herself … not by magic.
Readers aged 9 to 12 will be drawn into the intriguing mystery of The Ruby Bottle from the first pages till the final pages."
- Margaret Warner, BuzzWords online

"Things aren't going well for Amber - especially since her best friend, Bethany, has moved far away. School work is getting harder for her and two girls in her class are bullying her at every turn. Then one day Amber receives a ruby red bottle and an old diary. And what is inside her ruby bottle? After she opens it her adventures really begin."
- Mary Mageau





Chapter One

Amber jigged about on the front doorstep,
waiting, her skin tingling with excitement,
though she didn’t know why. After all, this was
just Mrs Heggety’s place …

There was a click and the door opened.

‘Oh, hello, Amber.’ Mrs Heggety pushed her
glasses back onto the bridge of her nose and
squinted in the bright afternoon sunlight. ‘What
a lovely surprise. Come on in, dear.’

Amber stepped into the gloomy hallway of
the old house and waited as Mrs Heggety closed
the front door.

‘Come on, dear. Let’s go down to the kitchen.
I’ll get you a glass of milk and I think I’ve got
some cream biscuits somewhere.’

Amber’s stomach rumbled as she followed
Mrs Heggety down the hallway. Mrs Heggety
always had cream biscuits. The sort her mother
didn’t buy.

‘How is school going?’ asked Mrs Heggety
as she rummaged through her pantry, opening
tins until she found what she wanted.


‘Good,’ muttered Amber, nibbling at a ragged
fingernail she’d broken at netball practice the
day before. ‘We’re having the annual fete in a
few weeks.’

‘Well, that should be fun,’ said Mrs Heggety
as she poured Amber a glass of cold milk.
‘Would you like me to bake some cakes again?’

Amber smiled. Mrs Heggety made the best
cakes. They were always the first to be sold at
the cake stall and she always made something
special … unusual … as first prize in the raffle.
One year she’d made a piano, and another year,
a cactus. Last year she had made a cake in the
shape of a witch’s hat and Amber’s best friend
Bethany had won it. Now Amber felt her insides
clench. What was she going to do at the fete without

‘Our class isn’t doing cakes this year, Mrs
Heggety,’ she murmured. ‘We’re doing the
jumble stall.’

She reached into her pocket and pulled out
a crumpled piece of paper, then flattened it out
and pushed it across the table.

‘It tells you all about it in this note. We need
to collect lots of old jumble that people don’t
want anymore and sell it to someone who does
want it. I was wondering if you had anything
we could use.’

Mrs Heggety gave a chuckle as she pushed
some of her wispy white hair from her forehead.
‘I’m sure I have,’ she said, lifting her nose so she
could peer through her glasses at the note. ‘I tell
you what. I’ll give you a box and you can look
through Mr Heggety’s shed. I’m sure you’ll find
plenty of useful things in there.’

Amber hadn’t been in Mr Heggety’s shed
since he had died a few years ago, but she
could remember the mountains of junk piled
everywhere. For just a moment she felt her body
tingle with anticipation.

‘Come on. Finish your milk and we’ll see
what we can find,’ said Mrs Heggety, passing
the note back. ‘And have another biscuit before
you go.’

The shed was a mess. In one corner, stacked
against the wall, were garden tools, lengths of
timber and an old wooden ladder. There was an
old cot full of bags, pieces of wire and buckets
with no handles. An ancient mower, a broken
chainsaw and something that might once have
been a bike were dumped together on the floor.
And boxes were stacked everywhere, crammed
full of junk that was no longer needed. At least,
not by Mrs Heggety. Amber wondered where to

She found plenty to fill the box – a vase,
coffee mugs, an old recipe book, a game of
Ludo and a couple of jigsaw puzzles, and a
small china tea set that must have belonged to
Mrs Heggety’s daughter, Vera, a long time ago.
Amber liked Vera. Whenever she came over to
visit her mother – nearly always wearing her
police uniform – she brought Barney with her.

‘Come and play with Barney, Amber,’ she’d
say, poking her head over the fence, laughing.
Barney would rest his huge paws on the top
railing next to her. Barney was the biggest dog
Amber had ever seen. So somehow she just
couldn’t imagine Vera ever playing with a tea

Amber looked at the box of junk. Was
something missing?
She shook her head, not
knowing why she had even thought that.
It was getting late. She heaved the box up into
her arms and was making her way to the door
when something caught her eye. Something
shiny. Something red. Rich red. Ruby red.
Holding the box, Amber craned her neck.
What was catching the fading light?

And at that moment, a bold streak of sunlight
flashed through a crack in the wall of the old
wooden shed and shone through the glass of the
most beautiful bottle she had ever seen.

Standing by the door with the box of jumble
in her arms, Amber was spellbound. As the light
from outside dulled, the bottle brightened, its
rays fanning out, striking objects with deep red
beams, just as a sun catcher would in the early
morning sunlight.

She had no idea how long she stood there,
but when Amber glanced out the grimy window
she noticed that night was falling. Yet she could
still see the ruby bottle. Very clearly. How was
that possible?

Carefully, Amber placed her jumble on the
floor. She pushed her way through a stack of
boxes and reached out. As her fingertips touched
the glass she felt a shiver run through her body.
Her arm tingled, and she knew instinctively this
bottle was meant for her.

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