Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Emma in Buttonland

Emma in Buttonland
by Ulrike Rylance
translated by Connie Stradling Morby
illustrated by Silke Leffler
Sky Pony Press, October 1, 2013review copy provided by the author

I have already proclaimed my love for fantasies "with small worlds, or toys that come to life, or characters that shrink."

Emma in Buttonland is my newest favorite in this sub-genre of fantasy. I wrote in my Goodreads review that this book is "part Borrowers, part Wizard of Oz." When I checked out the only other review (so far) for the book, that person said the same thing!

Emma is stuck at her aunt and uncle's house while her mom is on a trip to Africa. Her aunt and uncle are preoccupied with their jigsaw puzzles, leaving Emma free to wander through their rambling, many-roomed house. She discovers a locked room, and the lure of adventure is too much. She swipes the keys from the sleeping cook, opens the door, and discovers a room full of buttons. Boxes and boxes full of buttons. When one of the buttons speaks to her, and then when her fingers touch it as she reaches under a cabinet to grab it after it runs away, the magic begins -- Emma shrinks to button-size and enters Buttonland!

The first character she meets, Louise, a small silver button with a large red hat, introduces one of the main themes throughout the book: What does it mean to be VALUABLE? Louise is on a quest to discover her value.

Next, she meets Gustav, a button from a pair of lederhosen. His quest is to find his true love, his matching button, Constance.

Both accompany Emma on her quest to find the gold button that made her shrink so that she can touch it again and perhaps be restored to girl-size.

The book is illustrated with full-color illustrations, mostly along the bottom edges of the pages. The illustrator, Silke Leffler (according to the back flap) was "trained as a tailor and then studied textile design." There couldn't have been a more perfect pick for an illustrator! Her collages bring all of the fabrics, sewing notions, and different buttons (and other small lost items) to life.

I can't wait to book-talk this in my 5th grade classroom. I've got several readers who I think will love it as much as I do!


  1. The Borrowers series was one of my all time favorites! I have to have this book!

  2. Mary Lee, I hadn't heard of this book, but it sounds wonderful. I imagine many of us raised pre-internet played with mud pies, buttons and other found treasures. What an inventive way to share that experience with today's children.

  3. How much do I love that cover? So much!!


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