Thursday, 19 June 2014

Silver Buttons by Bob Graham

I should declare up front that I am a Bob Graham fan.

When I was teaching, Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten & Queenie the Bantam were two of my favourite story time reads.

However I found that many of Graham's other books worked better in a smaller group or one-on-one.

There is always so much going on in his stories, in a quiet, day to day, routine kind of way.
His deceptively simple, uncluttered illustrations are packed with extra details - just perfect for sharing and discussing over and over again.

I've always loved Graham's families and his sense of community. Time, change and continuity are important ideas in all his books. To this end he usually provides a timeline or map to highlight these themes.

Silver Buttons is no exception.

The story within these pages imagines all that can happen in just one minute - the big stuff and the little stuff - everything is significant & important in it's own way.

"...at 9:59 on Thursday morning, Jodie drew a duck....Her pen hovered in the air for the final button..."

As Jodie finishes her drawing, her brother Jonathan takes his first steps in front of her...each page then draws us further out from this point...to the kitchen where we see mum playing a song on her flute...into the neighbour's yard and on into the street. Past the shops, the park & a falling feather. A mother farewell's her soldier son, a shoelace is tied & a homeless woman walks by with a trolley full of her possessions. In the local hospital a baby is born. On to the beach and out to sea where a tanker makes its way to China.

We come back to earth as Jonathan totters & stumbles - Jodie draws the last button & mum rushes in at the sound of Jonathan falling - as the clock strikes 10:00am.

"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."

Silver Buttons has become one of my favourites too. It's Graham at his best - oozing warmth, humanity and compassion.

It is shortlisted for this year's CBCA picture book award and for me, it's the stand out winner!
(Graham's CBCA track record is pretty impressive by the by - winning 6 times over the past 26 years - will this be his lucky seventh?)

1 comment:

  1. It's taken me surprisingly long to appreciate Bob Graham. I just read Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten last month for the first time- it's so beautiful. I've just read Silver Buttons too. It will be one of my two favourites I think- I really like Parachute. Actually I'm not sure how much Picture Book of the Year is about the images, as they list the illustrator first, rather than the author.

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