Buttons

Overview

Brock Cole's first picture book in nearly ten years

Once there was an old man who ate so much his britches burst and his buttons popped one, two, three, into the fire. "Wife! Wife!" he cried. "We are undone! My britches have burst and my buttons are burnt, every one!

After putting her husband to bed, the wife enlists the aid of her three daughters in replacing their father's buttons. The eldest promises to find a rich man who will give her ...

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Overview

Brock Cole's first picture book in nearly ten years

Once there was an old man who ate so much his britches burst and his buttons popped one, two, three, into the fire. "Wife! Wife!" he cried. "We are undone! My britches have burst and my buttons are burnt, every one!

After putting her husband to bed, the wife enlists the aid of her three daughters in replacing their father's buttons. The eldest promises to find a rich man who will give her buttons in exchange for her hand in marriage. The second daughter decides to join the army for the sake of the buttons on a soldier's uniform. And the youngest is going to run through the meadows with her apron held out before her, hoping to catch a few buttons falling from the sky. Which of these young ladies will succeed in restoring the family fortunes? The answer is the essential and satisfying stuff of fairy tales. Brock Cole's whimsical prose and pictures make this original story feel like a hundred-year-old classic.

When their father eats so much that he pops the buttons off his britches, each of his three daughters tries a different plan to find replacements.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Puckishly perfect." —Starred, Booklist

"An original fairy tale from Cole that already seems classic . . . A blithe tumble through the land of folklore." Starred, Kirkus Reviews

"[A] brightly polished romp . . . Busy, hyperbolic pictures limn an appealing old-world setting. In his words and pictures, Cole treats the ridiculous characters with affection . . . inviting readers into the story to laugh right along with them." —Starred, Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
After their portly father eats so much that his britches burst and his buttons fly into the fire, three daughters concoct plans to find replacements. "A series of farcical mishaps steadily ups the comedy in this brightly polished romp," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 5-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A series of farcical mishaps steadily ups the comedy in Cole's (Alpha and the Dirty Baby) brightly polished romp. After their portly father eats so much that his britches burst and his buttons fly into the fire, three daughters concoct plans to find replacements. Setting off to snare a man who will fall in love with her and give her his buttons, the eldest encounters a "band of ruffians" who tip her over the balustrade of a bridge. She ends up marrying the handsome bargee who rescues her and realizes only much later that she has forgotten to ask for even one button ("She decided she would send her father a postcard instead"). The second girl disguises herself as a man and joins the army, intending to give her father the gold buttons from her new uniform. But her regiment is whisked off to battle, and when a brave young ensign is wounded, she tears off her jacket to make bandages ("Many buttons were lost and destroyed in the process, but who could think of buttons at a time like this?"). It falls to the youngest daughter to save the day, although her plan is the most harebrained of them all. Busy, hyperbolic pictures limn an appealing old-world setting. In his words and pictures, Cole treats the ridiculous characters with affection, not mockery, inviting readers into the story to laugh right along with them. Ages 5-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
Brock Cole's Buttons is an original tale that weds classic fairy tale themes of the fool hero and the siblings searching for success. Cole turns pen and brush to sophisticated illustration and word play to create a picture book that lifts both spirit and mind. His tale begins with a man who has popped his buttons and seeks help from his daughters who are willing, if not intellectually able. The eldest plans to dress up and request a button dowry from the rich man she snags with her beauty. The second daughter will join the army for surely you have noticed that a soldier's uniform has many, many buttons. The youngest decides to run in the meadows with her apron open so that if any buttons should fall from the sky, I will catch them before they get lost in the tall grass. Of course all three daughters marry happily and the youngest satisfies her father's need, fulfilling both fairy tale tradition and reader satisfaction. It takes an older child to admire the rollicking word play, the genius of the story's structure, and a sense of humor more satirical than overt. Like stand-up comics, this author shows a perfect sense of timing and succeeds with both smiles and stages. For success in the battle with stress, choose a few appropriate funny books like this for children, read at least one daily or when needed to immediately improve sour moods. 2000, Farrar, $16.00. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
When a man eats so much that "his britches burst and his buttons popped one, two, three, into the fire" we have the start of an original fairy tale with traditional themes. The man takes to his bed while his wife asks their three daughters to find new buttons. Each is an individual with her own idea of a solution. The two eldest don't return from their adventures, so it is up to the youngest. Simple she may be, but with the help of a clever cowherd she obtains the buttons. All the family come together at the wedding celebration bringing a wry smile to the reader at the happy ending. Cole has created appropriate illustrations with the spicy flavor of times past. His scratchy black outlines present a cast of characters bursting with personalities along with bits of settings fit for a theatrical production. Transparent watercolors are used sparingly to suggest scenes but never obscure the vitality of the lines. As the words, in small type, describe events, the pictures act on our funny-bones as our eyes take in all manner of detail of life in town, on the river, on the battlefield, and home. 2000, Farrar Straus and Giroux, Ages 5 to 9, $16.00. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz—Children's Literature
From The Critics
My fortune for a button? That seems to stand for the elemental gamble in folk tales. For the slightest material thing, I will do much, with much promised, risked, won. The button becomes a kind of talisman or golden thread, ready to procure great riches of all kinds to the one who perseveres. This is a rough sense of where you are when, suspending disbelief, you enter this picture book by Brock Cole. The curtains on the cover suggest that this is farce, drama, entertainment. And so it is. A father bursts his buttons and all havoc ensues. The three daughters (a departure from the three sons) agree to find new ones. One swears to marry a rich man with buttons aplenty; the second seeks valor on the battlefield where buttons often lie; and the third hopes the buttons will fall from the sky. As with most folktales, our expectations are upturned, our world topsy-turvy. The mother (note: not the father, the traditional benefactor) rewards the first two promissory daughters with embraces. The last, with her much more outlandish scheme, receives a pat. So much for the Don Quixote approach, which is what she does, waiting for buttons to fall from a tree, with her cowherd lover overhead. Brock Cole's illustrations remind me of those of George Cruikshank (1789-1856), whose lively artwork graced the works of many, including the Grimm Brothers. Cole excels in his double page spreads where you have to look hard to find the characters on their quests. A spoof, a tall tale, a folktale, whatever you wish, about a stout father and a sincere daughter (the third) and all the love matches between. A kind of Jane Austen universe. Cole doesn't pluck out any eyes of the other sisters as the Grimms might butleaves us with a sense of well-being. All is right in this world when all can so dance and be merry at a wedding party. A union of contraries, a moment when buttons can be exchanged for string to hold up trousers, as the narrator reminds us, "It's a small fault and seems to run in the family." The height of drama make this a work to be at play, at least in arms that appreciate what it might take to procure a button and other outlandish, high rhetorical propositions. May they—and we—save what we have with such humor and fervor. 2000, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Anne Lundin — The Five Owls, May/June 2000 (Vol. 14 No. 5)
Karen Carden
For the first time in nearly a decade, author and illustrator Brock Cole unveils a new picture book. Well worth the wait, Buttons is an original story that builds on some elements of traditional tales.
The Christian Science Monitor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374310011
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/24/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: AD630L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.26 (w) x 9.88 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Brock Cole is the author and/or illustrator of many books. His picture books include The Giant's Toe and Larky Marvis; and his critically acclaimed novels, The Goats and Celine. He lives in Buffalo, New York.

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