Acorn and Button by Laura Petrisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A debut publication for Laura Petrisin as both author and illustrator, she’s bent the genres back in time a bit to revive the hybrid of story and pictures with a beginning chapter book.
Similar to many books many of us grew up loving – in the manner of Frog and Toad – but with the addition of beautiful watercolor illustrations, and of 7 adventures instead of 3 or 4, the characters have distinct voice and personalities, with traits that seamlessly work to entertain while showing the benefits of getting along and building a friendship between two who in the world of human kids in school might sooner become bully and victim.
The twist here is the “bully” character – Button – is pointing out manners. Acorn is unassuming, slightly gullible, overtly friendly though shy ready pal open to learning. Somehow he manages through the adventures to become a hero – while still not wanting to be in the spotlight for his rewards.
My favorite chapter was perhaps the one about fireflies because it shares in both a gentle and a scary way that fireflies deserve their freedom. It is this same idea that makes me love Button fully in one sentence …”I was stuck in a sleeve once and I didn’t care for it.”
As a child I found myself always imagining inanimate objects as alive, wondering what they experienced, and how they felt. Maybe this is a stretch, but as an adult this never fully left me, and I realize now that I’ve studied indigenous ways and thought a bit, this is what is meant by sentient life – every single thing is alive in its own way. While an acorn is part of the natural world, a button is part of the world we humans created. As soon as buttons are created they served a purpose. In a sense they were not free to live their own lives.
Petrisin has set Button and Acorn free to serve many purposes but the best for kids is how much fun they bring to solving life’s challenges.
I was a teacher for 30 years, and feel the hybrid format – while not norm in publishing houses these days – is ideal for various ages learning to read – from listening to an adult or older child read – to anyone for whom reading without art is still difficult. Illustrations don’t give the whole story away, but encourage those for whom reading is still difficult. Since Acorn and Button are of indeterminate age, with wonderful descriptive vocabulary at learning level, there is no reading “down” but no extreme difficulty. I hope this will find its way into classrooms and school libraries.
BONUS – Since reading this book, I signed up for the author’s email list of related info and WOW. Many authors offer free coloring pages, puzzles, etc. Petrisin does, but she also writes from the characters. We learn more about their lives, feelings. What a delightful continued reading experience!
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I regularly review KidLit on GoodReads.com – and occasional adult lit.
© Bonnie ‘fireUrchin’ Lambourn 2023