Review Blog

Oct 24 2013

Clara Button and the wedding day surprise by Amy de la Haye

cover image

Ill. by Emily Sutton. Bloomsbury, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2013. ISBN 9781851777006.
(Age: 7+) Warmly recommended. Picture book. Customs. Historical fiction. The author's background as Professor of Dress History shines through this sumptuously produced hard cover book about wedding customs. Clara and her brother Ollie Button love doing things. Clara has a room full of materials, boxes of scraps, sewing implements and a basket of wool and bits that are very necessary to a budding designer. Her brother Ollie has a complimentary room with an array of boxes filled to overflowing with heels, and springs, metal bits and pieces, all just ready to experiment with and make inventions. Not an ipad or computer in sight!
When Mum receives an invitation to a wedding for the family, Clara and Ollie are told to work out what they need to wear. Clara takes all her clothes from her wardrobe to try on and decides on a dress, but feels it needs some augmentation. She dreams of the wedding dresses women wore in the past, while Ollie begins to make an invention to take with them. The following day the family goes to Portobello Road market and there see a wonderful haberdashery shop where Clara buys what she needs to add to her outfit.
But that night, dyeing her hair to match her outfit, some dye falls on her chosen dress, fortunately mum comes to the rescue.
When the family turns up to the wedding in all their finery, they find it is a Hindu wedding, giving the author and illustrator the chance to display a neat resolution to the tale, with a multicultural flavour.
The illustrations add an historical level to the story, revealing the breadth of the collection at the V&A.
Fran Knight

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