Tania Ingram (text), Jennifer Harrison (illus.) Oma’s Buttons Viking, 2 April 2018, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780143786573
This is a beautiful book, not only in how it looks but also in the story that it tells. Tania Ingram is the author of several other books for young readers, including the Jinny and Cooper series, and Jennifer Harrison is an artist and the illustrator of Olivia’s Voice. They both hail from the Adelaide region.
This touching story is quite gentle but very moving. It shows a loving relationship between young Ruthie and her grandmother. One morning while playing hide-and-seek at Oma’s house, Ruthie finds a tin of buttons under the bed. Oma calls them memory buttons and explains to Ruthie that each one holds special memories of a particular person. At the bottom of the tin, Ruthie finds a button from a favourite coat of Oma’s and asks if she can keep it as a memory button. Of course, Oma says yes but disaster befalls the button and Ruthie is devastated – until her grandmother comes up with an ingenious alternative which can never be lost.
The illustrations are stunning. So realistic as to be almost photographic, they augment and enhance the story. Close inspection of the pictures reveals the garment and button from each special person. The book design is also excellent, with illustrations of family members from the past placed on deckled backgrounds while the contemporary scenes are on white pages. Whether close-up portraits, wider scenes or small vignettes, the visual quality of the pictures in this book is excellent.
This is a feel-good story about families and memories and keeping them alive for younger generations. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Lynne Babbage