cover image Buttons


Brock Cole. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-31001-1

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.)