[I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.]
Scru, The Adventures of a Wooden Button is a beauty of a picture book. The elegance, sophistication, and charm of the story and illustrations is stunning and breath of fresh air. It is, in and of itself, a work of art and a gift to both children and the adults who read it with them.
Scru is, as the title says, a wooden button. He’s absolutely had it with being tied to a woolen jacket and being chewed on by a little boy. Scru breaks free and falls to the ground. A gust of wind blows him into the sewer, then a big fat rat finds him. That’s not an ideal situation for him, so he breaks himself free again and is carried off by a stream. The stream leads him to the ocean and finally to a sandy shore. It is there that this battered wooden button is picked up by a little old lady and thrown into a container with other buttons. Instantly he realizes that these buttons are clean and he is not. He doesn’t have too much time to feel sorry for himself when the little old lady who found him takes him out, cleans him up, and then sews him onto her sweater. Here is where he realizes that this is where he should be. He is happy.
There’s something incredible about the way this book is written. I’ve been struggling for weeks now trying to pinpoint exactly what it is, but I’m still falling short. The best I’ve been able to come up with is that this book feels incredible to read aloud. The way the words form in your mouth when you read the story is completely luxurious. The story is told in verse, but it’s a loose verse that simultaneously feels smooth and energetic. Its rhythm and tempo is playful and refined.
The words are folded seamlessly into the story and on some pages you’ll find yourself twisting and turning your head (or the book) to read. The slight physical movement that you have to do adds to a feeling of flowing and adds another level to Scru’s journey entirely. It’s very subtle, but it adds a lot.
Scru is divinely illustrated. While you know Scru’s thoughts, the images are more abstract and the button is never given a face or anthropomorphized in anyway. It makes the story all the more magical and you’ll find yourself carrying over an empathy from the story onto your everyday objects — with a special eye out for buttons and other out of place objects. The illustrations are each works of art — and make the whole story feel like a light and delicate dream.
Reading Scru to my sons is wonderful. The story is about having the courage to change something you don’t like. After Scru has made the initial decision to leave — he falls into a situation that’s even worse than before. Instead of berating himself he simply moves on. It’s a tremendous way of telling someone to never give up and to not worry about failing multiple times in a row — just keep going. They were too drawn in by the story and the artwork to even notice that a life lesson was being imparted on them — and I can’t image a better way.
It was so much fun to answer both my sons’ questions. The more abstract images had my eldest asking a lot of whys and my youngest asking a lot of whats — and with each reading there was always another deeper, more interesting question that they felt compelled to ask. “How far did Scru go? How long did it take him to get there? Did the other buttons run away, too? Why is Scru bigger here? Can I hug a button? Are there really buttons that big? Did the jellyfish sting him?” It was fun and magical experience imagining all the possibilities with them.
This is a debut picture book for both Tracey Waters and Sara Pezzani — and what a debut. Scru was first presented at the International Children’s Book Fair in Bologna on April 4th, 2016 at Grafiche AZ‘s stand. It’s a stunning picture book that I am thrilled found its way to us. I hope you get a chance to experience it soon. It’s stunning.
Where to Get it:
- At Scru’s Facebook Page
Author and Illustrator Websites:
- Author: Tracey Waters
- Illustrator: Sara Pezzani
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the author. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I absolutely love your review. Thoughtful, intriguing, and does its job of getting me to want this book. I really like debut picture books. It would make my year to receive every new picture book debut. I know you said the button has no face, but look at the last illustration you posted. Intentionally or not–and it is probably not– the button looks to have an upside-down smile thanks to a fish swimming by it.
Hi. I would be happy to send you a copy even if 3 years have passed. like Scru’s Facebook page/send me a message with your address. Thanks.
I love the illustrations and the way the text makes you twist and turn as you follow it. Clever .
Hi everyone. I was so touched by Tiffa’s review. The book has been selling quite well in Europe. You can now buy it on Etsy.com. https://www.etsy.com/shop/TraceysBookstore#items Thanks for your lovely comments.
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