We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, as well as reading challenges that we have pledged to join this year.
Our reading theme for November – December: The Butler Did It! MysteREADventure!
Written by: Jennifer Uman
Illustrated by: Valerio Vidali
Published by: Templar Books (2013)
Award: The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book (2013)
Book borrowed from Milan-Berlin Public Library. Photos from online sources.
While I was searching for possible titles for our Mystereadventure theme, Jemmy Button was one of the books that appeared in the results. I remember seeing it last year but never got a chance to pick it up. Imagine my delight when I found out that this picturebook was inspired by the true story of a boy named Orundellico from the islands of Tierra del Fuego.
The story began in the early 1800s. Robert FitzRoy, captain of the HMS Beagle, sailed from England along with his men to the tip of South America and made their way to the Tierra del Fuego islands. After carefully studying the life of the indigenous people living on the islands, Captain FitzRoy decided to take a boy — Orundellico — with him back to England to be “civilized”. In exchange for taking the boy, Captain FitzRoy decided to give Orundellico’s family a mother-of-pearl button. This was how Orundellico became known as Jemmy Button.
Jemmy Button followed the Englishmen back to England where he was taught Christianity and Victorian customs. Soon, he was wearing a hat and fancy clothes, just like everyone else. He attended music concerts, had his photos taken, and even found himself in the company of King William IV and Queen Adelaide. He felt like he belonged, but not quite.
Sometimes he missed the island.
He missed the trees and their boughs,
and the stars in the night sky.
The time came to return home.
The story of Jemmy Button’s return to Tierra del Fuego was one I find most riveting. Captain FitzRoy had high hopes that Jemmy Button would teach his people about everything he had learned when he was in England, especially Victorian civilization. When Jemmy Button realized that he was back on the island, he removed his clothing and relearned his native language and customs. For Orundellico, Tierra del Fuego was home and where his heart truly belonged.
Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali’s shared interest in the fascinating story of Jemmy Button led them to collaborate on this picturebook. Aided by an online translator, English-speaking Uman and Italian-speaking Vidali shared their thoughts about travel, homesickness, and the story of Jemmy Button. This nonfiction picturebook makes use of sparse text and breathtaking full-spread images. I was as mesmerized as Jemmy Button while I looked at Vidali’s gorgeous illustrations.
#AWBRead2015 Challenge Update: 109 (35)
#nfpb2015 Challenge Update: 71 (25)