Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
Silver Buttons is an unusual children’s picture book by Bob Graham, published by Walker Books (2013.) It has excellent accompanying Classroom Ideas available at Walker Books website.
From the publisher:
At 9.59 on Thursday morning, Jodie draws a duck. Just as she is about to add one final silver button to the duck's boots, her little brother takes his first step. At this exact same moment, a man buys bread, a soldier leaves home, a baby is being born... Here is a book, a story, a philosophy so simply told and yet - in true and inimitable Bob Graham style - so rich with emotion and meaning. It is in the smallest details that we sense the greatest significance and can see the big picture. From his glorious urban skyscapes to the tender portrayal of a falling feather or the tying of a shoelace or a dog's joy in scratching his back, Bob lets us in on a world view conveyed with humanity, compassion and affection.
Why is this an unusual children’s picture book? Well, it’s not a straightforward narrative. It’s like looking down a magical telescope at a single moment in time, and being able to see exactly what’s happening in different places at that moment. We see Jodie about to draw in the final silver button on her duck’s boot, Baby Jonathan take his first step, Mum play the tin whistle, a pigeon lose a feather- and so on, all around the country and even out to sea. The book is studded with little cameos of both everyday events and momentous occasions, all part of the rich tapestry of human life. As Graham himself said, "I loved making this book probably more than any other. It was just like dropping a stone into a lake of very still water and watching the ripples spread out."
There’s lots for children to discuss and identify, some of it delightfully quirky:
“Out in the street, Joseph Pascano avoided the cracks in the path so the sharks wouldn’t get him.”
The illustrations are beautiful as Graham’s always are. Muted colours, many spreads with detail, some from unusual perspectives, the whole combining to a charming visual feast. Kids will enjoy spotting interesting visual connections on different pages. Silver Buttons is a book to ponder, one that makes a great curriculum resource for teachers and librarians who want children to gain an understanding of human connections and connectedness.
Silver Buttons has been shortlisted in the Picture Book Category of the CBCA 2014 Awards. It has also been awarded the coveted Book Chook Feather of Approval!
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