The Button Box
After Jewish fifth-grader Ava and her Muslim best friend Nadeem are called hateful names at school, Ava’s Granny Buena rummages in her closet and pulls out a glittering crystal button box. It’s packed with buttons that generations of Ava’s Sephardic ancestors have cherished. With the help of Granny’s mysterious cat Sheba, Ava and Nadeem discover that a button from the button box will take them back in time. Suddenly, they are in ancient Morocco, where Nadeem’s ancestor, Prince Abdur Rahman, is running for his life. Can Ava and Nadeem help the prince escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny, creating a legendary Golden Age for Muslims, Jews and Christians?
|Interest Level||Grade 3 - Grade 7|
|Reading Level||Grade 4|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ®|
|Number of Pages||152|
“A profoundly inspiring look at interfaith love and courage that will thrill and move readers. Timely and timeless.”—Karuna Riazi, author of the Gauntlet series
“This exciting cross-cultural story will have young readers at the edge of their seats, clamoring for more Button Box escapades. A perfect choice for fans of The Magic Treehouse series who are transitioning to middle-grade novels.”—Laura Shovan, coauthor of Sydney Taylor Notable Book A Place at the Table
Jewish Book Council
This lively middle grade adventure has two young protagonists, cousins Ava and Nadeem. Ava is Jewish while Nadeem is Muslim, and a school bully torments them due to their religious backgrounds. They tell their grandmother, a consummate story-teller and very wise woman. She begins to tell them an ancient tale, but is interrupted and the tale remains unfinished.
Granny Buena has a box of interesting old buttons, some antique, one of which has the magical property of transporting the children back in time. They find themselves in ancient Morocco, becoming acquainted with historical figures, as well as some of their own ancestors. The authors construct a world filled with color and texture that will spark the interests of young readers of today. The sights, the scents, and the atmospheres of ancient bazaars and homes create an indelible impression with characters clad in robes, scarves, and turbans.
One of the characters, Abdul Rahman, is a Muslim prince who is fleeing bounty hunters and is in need of the children’s help to escape to safety in Spain. They are hesitant because they know that if they are caught, the Jewish community will suffer the consequences. Along with a brave, resourceful cousin, they gather their courage and help facilitate a daring escape that indirectly, but clearly, paves the way for a golden age of peace and prosperity for the Jews of Spain.
Upon reentry to modern times, Ava and Nadeem realize that they have learned not only a slice of history but also about their own abilities to handle bullies as well as the importance of a well-told tale.
A glossary of terms is appended, as well as an authors’ note discussing the topics addressed in the book such as Sephardic Jewry, some parts of Spanish history, and the overlap between folklore and historical events.
“Both the modern and medieval characters are presented in emotionally charged language as unique individuals with strong personalities.” —Kirkus Reviews STARRED
Author: Fawzia Gilani-Williams
Fawzia Gilani was born and raised in England where she became a teacher. She is the author of many children's books, including A Treasury of Eid Tales, and is currently working on an Islamic fairy tale series. She serves as an international educational consultant with a PhD in children's literature and character development. She is a Global Representative for the International Positive Education Network and works for the Abu Dhabi Education Council. She spends her time in the United Arab Emirates, Ohio, and England with her daughter and husband. She looks forward to the day when world conflict is no more.
Author: Bridget Hodder
Bridget Hodder began her career as an Aztec archaeologist, translating ancient stories. Then she realized she had her own tales to tell. She has a History degree from Mount Holyoke College, as well as M.A.s in Archaeology and Anthropology from UCLA and Vanderbilt University.
Illustrator: Harshad Marathe
Harshad Marathe is an illustrator and storyteller. He has an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and has illustrated many books. He has backpacked all over the world. He lives in India.
The Button Box is a new middle-grade novel about cousins, one Jewish and one Muslim, who travel back in time to ancient Morocco. Below, co-authors Bridget Hodder and Fawzia Gilani-Williams discuss their hopes for the book, what inspired them, and more. Where did you get the inspiration… View →