Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo
Ill. by Michael Foreman. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406371680
(Age: 8-11) Highly recommended. Themes: Orphans and Orphanages, Classical Music, Wolfgang Mozart, Friendship, 18th Century Britain, Bullying. Michael Morpurgo's Lucky Button is a thoughtful time slip story set in the present day and in The Foundling Hospital, Britain's first home for abandoned children. This charity was started by philanthropist Thomas Coram in 1739 with the assistance of British painter William Hogarth and composer George Frideric Handel.
Young Joshua Trelawney's life is divided clearly into two halves. At home he cares for his wheelchair bound mother while at school he's a loner longing for a friend while suffering the taunts of the bullies who make fun of his name with Moby Dick taunts. Music is Jonah's solace; he loves to sing and desperately wants to join the school choir. Jonah escapes from the bullying seeking refuge in the chapel originally part of the Foundling Hospital. Finding a small gold button and meeting a ghostly organist helps Jonah to understand his current circumstances and to find happiness.
Nathaniel Hogarth shares his life story, abandoned as a baby at the Foundling Hospital, then sent to live with kind foster parents in the country. Music provides solace for young Nathaniel when he's returned to the hospital, and he meets Handel and is chosen to sing in The Messiah. Foundling 762 grows up to be apprenticed at the artist Hogarth's stable and takes his surname. Fortuitously young Nat moves on to Sir John Sullivan's estate where he becomes a companion to young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Woferl.
Lucky Button celebrates the power of music, with Morpurgo's touching narrative beautifully told through Michael Foreman's detailed watercolour paintings showing strongly drawn historic and contemporary characters. This is a story that resonates with hope, friendship and resilience rising above adversity, a story perfect for sharing with students in Years 3-5.