cover image Brass Button

Brass Button

Dragonwagon Crescent, Crescent Dragonwagon. Atheneum Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80582-0

One spring day, a button falls off Mrs. Moffatt's new red wool coat and lands in the raspberry bushes of her neighbor, Mr. Peterson. The loss goes unnoticed, the coat is put away and, as the friendship between the widow and widower grows, the button begins a serendipitous circuit of the neighborhood--picked up by a schoolgirl, worn to the beach in summer as swimsuit adornment, carried by a crow to a nest near its starting place--arriving back on Mr. Peterson's garden path the day Mrs. Moffatt accepts his proposal, and just as her coat is needed again for winter. Divided into 10 chapters, Dragonwagon's (Home Place) story is neatly told and has a satisfying circularity to it, although the pacing lags as the outcome becomes increasingly obvious. Paradise elaborates on the tale's inherent sweetness, crafting a cozy if white-bread world of picket fences, broad sidewalks and verdant gardens all captured in color-drenched gouaches. Perhaps in homage to Mr. Peterson's career as an architect, she paints many of her compositions in the shape of architectural details (e.g., columns or arches surrounding the text, a panel shaped like an altarpiece to face the description of Mr. Peterson and Mrs. Moffatt's wedding). The effect comes to seem a little mannered--which is, after all, in keeping with the highly tailored story. Ages 5-9. (May)