Nanna’s Button Tin
Walker Books, 2017
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Poor Ted. He has been cuddled so hard for so long he has lost his eye and needs a new one. And so it is Nanna’s button tin to the rescue. It’s a special tin with all sorts of buttons – surely there will be one that is just right for Ted. One that is just the right size, just the right shape and just the right colour. Perhaps it is the yellow one that was on the baby jacket worn home from hospital – but no, it is too shiny-bright. Maybe the brown, bear-shaped button from the birthday jumper; or the angel ones sewn on to the snuggly to protect a sick little girl. For every button in the button tin has a special story and an important memory to be shared. But none is quite right until… and a new story and a new memory are made.
In the days of the Great Depression and World War II, when make-do-and-mend was the mantra, mums everywhere saved buttons off outgrown clothes, pieces of string and all sorts of things for the day they would be needed again. Button tins were the norm and many a young girl of the 50s had a special treat of being able to upend the tin, sort through the gems and hear family stories that may well have been forgotten if the connections were not made. In these days of zippers, stretch fabrics and throwaway fashion one wonders how such family memories will be passed on.
This is a warm, wrap-you-in-a-hug story perfectly illustrated in a retro palette with gentle lines and details that will bring back memories of the button tin to many grandmothers sharing the story with their little ones. And for more modern mums, it might be the inspiration to gather those special clothes together so a memory quilt can be made so the stories can be passed on. For it is those intimate family details that continue our heritage as much as the monoliths of the past. Who would have thought something as small and innocuous as a button could spawn so much, not the least an amazing book that needs to be on every family shelf.
This one is on its way to someone with her very own memories of her nanna’s button tin and a tin full of memories to share with her granddaughters.