Sam’s journey will be familiar for readers with—or expecting—siblings, as will his difficulty managing the intense emotions that come with feeling left out. His solo journey ends up a flop when he discovers that Maggie has followed him to “the end of the shelf,” a dangerous place starring a deadly vacuum cleaner that almost spells the end for Maggie. Thanks to Sam’s quick thinking she’s saved, and the unnerving experience brings the two together, prompting Maggie’s promise that she will stop taking Sam’s toys and Sam’s revelation that Maggie needs “a responsible button to look after her…and help her make smart decisions.”
Olson’s photograph illustrations are distinctive, showcasing the adorable buttons as they go about their daily play and featuring entertaining details—like Sam’s runaway knapsack fashioned from a ball point needle, or the family’s thimble basketball net—that younger readers will find amusing. Ultimately, Sam learns that being an older sibling comes with its own perks, and in backmatter Olson includes fun facts about the featured characters. (Mr. Snuggles was hand-crafted by a woman in Ukraine and measures smaller than a quarter). The message that families need each other—and that change isn’t always scary—hits home.
Takeaway: A young button learns the value of becoming an older sibling.
Comparable Titles: Matthew Burgess’s The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon, Lori Nichols’s Maple & Willow Together.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
A button learns that being a big brother is a big deal in Olson’s picture book.Sam is used to being the littlest button in the craft box. Sometimes that’s a pain, but it also means Sam gets a lot of attention for being the smallest. When a new, smaller button—Maggie—is adopted, Sam is frustrated: Maggie copies him,tries to do things that are too advanced for her, and steals his favorite toy. Sam has no choice—he has to run away. Butwhen Maggie follows him and almost gets swallowed up by the vacuum cleaner, Sam swings to the rescue (“Sam realizedhis sister needed a responsible button to look after her”). New mission established, Sam learns that there are benefits tono longer being the smallest button in the box. Olson’s clever combination of photographed elements and digital drawingsand focus on younger characters will strongly appeal to her readers. She never packs too many words into the page, andher sentences are simple, letting her art do the heavy lifting of telling the story (Sam’s epic rescue, depicted on a wordlesstwo-page spread, feels both heroic and giggle-worthy). Sam’s emotions about being a big sibling are familiar ones, and hisjourney from jealous grouch to role model resonates. Maggie is never villainized; she’s just young, giving Sam the chanceto grow up gracefully.A cleverly told tale on a familiar theme.