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The Memory String
     

The Memory String

5.0 1
by Eve Bunting, Ted Rand (Illustrator)
 

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Each button on Laura’s memory string represents a piece of her family history. The buttons Laura cherishes the most belonged to her mother—a button from her prom dress, a white one off her wedding dress, and a single small button from the nightgown she was wearing on the day she died. When the string breaks, Laura’s new stepmother, Jane, is there

Overview


Each button on Laura’s memory string represents a piece of her family history. The buttons Laura cherishes the most belonged to her mother—a button from her prom dress, a white one off her wedding dress, and a single small button from the nightgown she was wearing on the day she died. When the string breaks, Laura’s new stepmother, Jane, is there to comfort Laura and search for a missing button, just as Laura’s mother would have done. But it’s not the same—Jane isn’t Mom. In Eve Bunting’s moving story, beautifully illustrated by Ted Rand, Laura discovers that a memory string is not just for remembering the past: it’s also for recording new memories.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Bunting has found an original way to tell an old story about making room for new memories.
Kirkus Reviews

"the story offers a hopeful beginning and invites readers to think about ways to remember family history" School Library Journal

"The earnestness...is balanced with tenderness, and Rand's realistic artwork concentrates on the faces of the family and the emotions that cross them." Booklist, ALA

Children's Literature - Susan Treadway
Energetic watercolor drawings capture a young girl's anguish after her mother dies, when her memory string of forty-three buttons breaks. It was her great-grandmother's memory string, with a single button from her mother, cousins, grandma, great-aunt, and more. Laura and her cat Whiskers seem to be the only ones interested in the stories behind every precious button. Family history beams from Laura’s heart through every single rendering, recalling special details about her own life and others. This irreplaceable heirloom kept her mother's memory alive while Laura attempts to protect her heart from building a new relationship with Jane, her stepmother. Whiskers, however, was not really amused or entertained by the fanfare. In fact, Whiskers unexpectedly broke the necklace when he suddenly jerked up and scrambled away from Laura's lap. Jane attempted to comfort Laura through a series of gentle means as the frantic search turned up thirty-six buttons. Laura’s father earnestly tries to locate the remaining seven buttons and learns that Jane's wisdom, “no substitutes allowed,” truly makes all the difference in restoring their stepfamily along with the unique memory string. Thus, children in blended situations relate to Laura's tugging heartstrings in trying to make sense of a broken world. Treasured symbols alleviate some of the hurt and mystery of life, while creating a vital legacy for generations to come. Discussion after a private reading or group read-aloud is appropriate for elementary and older students to sort out critical matters while exploring family histories. Reviewer: Susan Treadway; Ages 4 to 8.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Resentful of her new stepmother, Laura clings to a family heirloom, a "memory string" of buttons taken from special garments. As her father and her stepmother, Jane, paint the porch, Laura sits apart and fingers each button, loudly telling her cat about her great-grandmother's first "grown-up dress," her father's Gulf War service uniform and, last, the nightgown her mother was wearing when she died. Bunting's (Smoky Night) prose is as sure-footed as ever, but is much encumbered here by a contrived plot that has Laura losing the buttons and the family coming together in the search for them. A rapprochement between Laura and Jane, who finds the final missing button, is all but inevitable. Even Rand's (Baby in a Basket) light-dappled watercolors can't rescue the story from its didactic intent; this is likelier to engage adults looking for books that address a particular subject (such as stepparenting) than children. Ages 5-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
Even after three years, Laura still feels the pain of her mother's death and cannot yet let herself love Jane, her new stepmother. In fierce determination to keep her mother's memory alive, Laura continually examines her memory string of buttons. But when her cat, Whiskers, accidentally breaks the string and scatters the buttons in the grass, she is devastated. Her dad and Jane come to help find the forty-three buttons, and the three of them find all but one—the one from her dad's uniform from the Persian Gulf War. Jane finds the missing button after Laura goes to bed, and she leaves it on the porch for Laura to find the next day. Laura comes to understand that Jane loves her and can become part of her memories, too. Bunting and Rand combine to produce a powerful, touching, realistic story about loss and love, but it is difficult to pinpoint the audience for this particular book. The protagonist's age is not given, yet in the illustrations she appears to be nine or ten. The more mature theme, the picture book format, the extensive text, and the age of the main character seem incongruous and make this book hard to place. 2000, Clarion Books, $15.00. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: J. B. Petty
This touching picture book is about a young girl struggling to accept her stepmother after her mother's death. The child in the story has a string of buttons which form a "memory string." She know the stories behind each of the buttons from her grandmother, mother, and her own life. When the string breaks and the buttons scatter, Laura is surprised that her stepmother understands their significance and helps her recover the buttons. The incident is the beginning of Laura's acceptance of her stepmother. A wonderful book about family relationships, traditions, and healing. 2000, Clarion Books, $15.00. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: S. Latson SOURCE: Parent Council Volume 8
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Within hearing of her new stepmother, Laura meanly recounts to her disinterested cat what each button on her memory string means. There's one from her great-grandmother's first grown-up dress, another from her mother's wedding dress, and one from the nightgown the woman was wearing when she died three years ago. When the impatient feline jumps away, breaking the string, the buttons fly everywhere. Laura's father and Jane help find all but one of them, but the girl is inconsolable. In the night, she hears them debating about whether to cut an identical button from her father's military uniform. Jane insists, "Laura would rather have that button missing than have a replacement-It's like a mother. No substitute allowed." She finds the lost item with a flashlight and she puts it on the porch where Laura can see it without being offended by the finder. However, in the morning the child has had a change of heart and asks Jane's help in restringing the beads. Rand's oversized, light-dappled watercolor pictures show the love and loyalty between the father and his new wife and their love for the prickly and still-grieving Laura. Bunting trusts readers to interpret behavior and understand complex emotions without her having to provide a moral or dramatic ending. Instead, the story offers a hopeful beginning and invites readers to think about ways to remember family history-including making one's own button memory string.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A string of treasured buttons becomes a metaphor for a young girl's struggle to accept her new stepmother in this poignant exploration of love and loss. Laura's memory buttons represent all the stories that have been handed down through generations of family, beginning with her great-grandmother. When her mother died, the memory string became a talisman, ensuring that Laura would remember all the times they shared. Now her father has remarried and Laura uses the memory string as a way of blocking out the presence of her new stepmother, Jane, someone Laura is determined can never take her real mother's place. Yet when the string accidentally breaks and the buttons scatter, it's Jane who searches with a flashlight far into the night until every button is found. Is it possible that there can be room in Laura's life for her stepmother after all? Sun-dappled watercolors capture the feel of a warm summer day and provide a framework for Laura's observation of her father and his new wife as they work together painting the front porch. Close-up illustrations portray Laura's range of emotions, from sadness and petulance to distress and finally tentative friendship. Bunting (Doll baby, see above, etc.) has found an original way to tell an old story about making room for new memories. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544555471
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/08/2015
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
71,561
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Bunting has found an original way to tell an old story about making room for new memories.
Kirkus Reviews

"the story offers a hopeful beginning and invites readers to think about ways to remember family history" School Library Journal

"The earnestness...is balanced with tenderness, and Rand's realistic artwork concentrates on the faces of the family and the emotions that cross them." Booklist, ALA

Meet the Author

EVE BUNTING has written over two hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz, The Wall, Fly Away Home, and Train to Somewhere. She lives in Southern California.

The late TED RAND was the esteemed illustrator of many picture books, including Eve Bunting's Secret Place and The Memory String.

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Memory String 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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