By: Bridget Hodder and Fawzia Gilani-Williams

Illustrated by: Harshad Marathe

Published: April 1, 2022

Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing


Best friends, Ava and Nadeem, have been confronted numerous times by a bully at their school due to their race and heritage. Ava is Sephardic Jewish and her cousin Nadeem is Muslim. Their different religions and cultures have never kept them from being best friends and they don’t understand why others treat them so harshly. A visit to Granny Buena offers them a chance to right the wrongs laid out many years before their time.

Fans of the Magic Tree House series of books will love THE BUTTON BOX for its magic and time travel. Two kids and a cat with a mysterious gem on her collar have to travel back in time to help save a Muslim Prince from his enemies. When Ava and Nadeem find a special button in Granny Buena’s button box and it causes the gem on Sheba the cat’s collar to glow, they find themselves in a hypnotic trance and are soon transported back 1,000 years ago in time. There they meet ancestors who were pivotal in the prince’s escape to Spain.

This story is based on actual historic events but also touches on the current climate of racism and hatred toward Muslims and Jewish people. The authors hope writing this story will inspire our younger generation to make changes in the way we think and treat others and stop this cycle of hate. THE BUTTON BOX would make for a great classroom read-along or literature circle for older-elementary-aged readers. There are a few illustrations throughout the book to bridge the gap for children new to chapter books.

Check out the book trailer:

BRIDGET HODDER: Bridget has decades of experience as a reading and communication specialist, working primarily with young people with learning disabilities. Like Ava in “The Button Box,” Bridget is Sephardic. She is also the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Her first Middle-Grade book, “The Rat Prince,” was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. “The Rat Prince” was an ILA -CBC Children’s Choice List starred selection, an Amazon Hot List pick, and was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Society award in Children’s Fantasy Literature. After the release of “The Button Box,” Bridget and Fawzia’s next co-written multicultural children’s tale for Kar-Ben / Lerner Books will be published in 2023. Bridget lives in the Boston area. To learn more about Bridget’s life and work, visit her website, HERE.

FAWZIA GILANI-WILLIAMS, Ph.D.: Fawzia, who is Muslim, was born and raised in England, where she became an elementary school teacher. An internationally experienced educator, Fawzia has worked in England, the United States, and Canada. Her writing explores moral power, quiet heroism, and multicultural cognizance, and her research interests include child identity and empowerment, and Islamic critical theory. She currently works as a cluster librarian in the UAE, where she manages elementary school libraries.  Fawzia’s previous book, “Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam,” illustrated by Chiara Fedele and published in 2017 by Lerner Books’ Kar-Ben imprint, was awarded a silver medal by the Sydney Taylor Book Award. To learn more about Fawzia’s life and work, visit her website, HERE.

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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