About the Holiday
First designed in Germany in the 13th century, buttonholes revolutionized clothing, bags, and other objects that required closing and inspired a new art form. Designers and manufacturers took buttons to heart, making them not only functional but beautiful. Created from iridescent shells, sparkling glass, bone, and other materials, these little canvases were infused with paintings, intricate carvings, astonishing color, and more eye-catching features. To celebrate the artistic merits and popularity of buttons, the National Button Society was founded in 1938 and recognized button collecting as an organized hobby – something also celebrated in today’s collection of poems.
Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections
Written by Michelle Schaub | Illustrated by Carmen Saldaña
A girl finds herself with a conundrum. Her teacher has given the class an assignment to bring something they collect to school. While all the other kids cheer and talk about their collections, the girl sits at her desk, wondering. In My Collection Conundrum she thinks, “It seems that everyone BUT ME / knows just the thing to share. / ‘My jar of marbles.’ / ‘Arrowheads.’ / ‘My favorite teddy bears.’” The little girl has lots of random things at home, but they just don’t add up to a collection. She’s hoping that her family and friends can help.
At home, she asks her mom about her collection, and in My Mother’s Button Box, the little girl stands by mesmerized as her mom opens the box to show her. Inside are “shiny ones / of shell and glass. / Pearly circles, / swirls of brass…. / Daisies, paisleys, / bugs, and bows. / Bunnies saved / from baby clothes.” Each is so daintily different that it’s hard for her to choose a favorite.
Next, the little girl tries to find inspiration in her dad’s train collection. In My Father’s Trains, she tells how she waits eagerly as he flips the switch and “round and round the crisscrossed lanes, / engines pull my father’s trains. / Box cars, tankers in a row, / circus cars with beasts in tow, / flatcars hauling toys and cranes….” / Signals flash and whistles blow. / I love to watch the dizzy show / when Daddy runs his model trains, / round and round.” Her sister and brothers have their own special collections, and her grandparents have both amassed items that bring them joy.
In Grampa’s Good Cents, the little girl talks about how her grandpa always keeps his eyes on the ground, searching for “a glint of silver / hiding in a sidewalk crack / or / a flash of copper / dropped in the street.” When he does see a coin, he stoops to pick it up and examines it carefully “hoping to find / a buffalo nickel, / a Roosevelt dime, / or some other bright prize / to make his set complete. / Gramps always says, / ‘Keep your eyes open wide— / for the treasure you seek / could be right / at / your/ feet.’”
The little girl searches the attic and visits her Auntie Kate, who has lived in states all across the country. She goes to see her friend Asher, who has a collection that moves, and her friend Meg, who collects animal figures of a certain color. While she appreciates their cool collections, for her these aren’t quite right either. Even her mail carrier has a collection. It’s not made up of objects he can put in a box, she relates, but things he sees daily along his route. Even when she and her family eat at Mae’s “Rise and Shine Diner,” she finds that Mae has a special collection too.
The girl does a little research and accumulates a few new vocabulary words that she’s eager to use. Then she takes a break to go outside and enjoy the warm evening, where she describes what she sees in Collecting Stars?: “sparks of starlight / dance around the yard,” playing catch us if you can. She tells readers, “I fill a mason jar / and watch the embers / flash and glow…” and then, unscrewing the lid, watches as these “specks of light” fill the sky again. In the morning, the girl sits at her desk in her classroom, happy and as enthusiastic to share the treasured collection she’s created. Can you guess what it is?
Michelle Schaub’s charming poems about all kinds of collections will have kids looking at their world in a whole new way. While some readers may already have amassed a collection of their own, much of the delight of Schaub’s poetry is in realizing how many types of collectibles there are and even in what constitutes a collection. Each of Schaub’s poems—some rhymed, some free verse—hold little treasures of their own with enchanting onomatopoeia, evocative synonyms and metaphors, and even snappy dialogue. The array of family, friends, neighbors, and community members and their individual collections will keep kids coming back again and again to this special poetry collection.
Carmen Saldaña’s homey, textured illustrations give a personal touch to each page as people of all ages proudly display their passion for their chosen collectable. Kids will love lingering over the glass cases, gallery walls, and well-stocked shelves to take in all the details of each collection. Saldaña’s work also provides plenty of opportunities for math extensions in counting and sorting. Her lovely color palette shines with warmth and the joy that comes from sharing the individual and the communal pleasure of this favorite hobby.
Sure to inspire children to start a collection of their own or to learn more about the collections of others, Finding Treasure is a perfect book for home, classroom, or public library collections.
Ages 4 – 8
Charlesbridge, 2019 | ISBN 978-1580898751
Discover more about Michelle Schaub and her books on her website.
To learn more about Carmen Saldaña and view a portfolio of her art, visit her website.
National Button Day Activity
Pin the Button on the Coat Game
Pin the Button on the Coat is a fun game you can make yourself and play anytime! It’s great for a button-themed party or on any day that you’re holed up and wanting something to do! The game is played like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” and the object is to get the buttons lined up as close to the center of the coat as possible. Have fun!
- Fleece or felt of your choice of several favorite colors, 2 pieces of 8 ½” x 11” to make the coat and smaller pieces or scraps to make buttons
- Fabric glue
- Black marker
- Clothes hanger
- Clothes pins
- Cut out a coat shape from the fleece
- Cut out a collar from a different color fleece (optional)
- With the fabric glue, attach the sleeves to the edge of the coat, and the collar to the top of the coat.
- Let dry
- Cut circles to represent buttons from the other colors of fleece or felt, as many as you need
- With the marker make dots to represent holes in the “buttons”
- When the glue on the coat is dry, attach it to the clothes hanger with the clothespins
- Have fun playing!