The Button Box | Bridget Hodder and Fawzia Gilani-Williams


The Button Box by Bridget Hodder and Fawzia Gilani-Williams

Out Now from Kar-Ben Publishing; 152 pages

Content Warnings: Islamophobia and Antisemitism, mentions of parental death, sexism, mild violence

About Bridget Hodder: “I’m a dreamer and a do-gooder. When I realized (around age 9) that my efforts to make this world a better place were falling pretty flat, I decided to make up entirely different, better worlds of my own, and ask readers to join me there. I have worked as an archaeologist, a teacher, and an autism specialist. As I’ve moved through life, I’ve discovered that there are as many stories in this world as there are voices to tell them. Make sure you tell yours.” (Bio taken from author’s website.)

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About Fawzia Gilani-Williams: “Dr. Fawzia Gilani-Williams is an internationally experienced educator and educational consultant with experience in school accreditation and school inspections. She has written a number of books that promote intercultural literacy, emotional and social flourishing. She serves as a global representative for the International Positive Education Network and is currently employed by the UAE Ministry of Education.” (Bio taken from author’s Goodreads page.)

Find Fawzia Gilani-Williams on the following platforms:

“Ava found herself thinking that history was way more fascinating when you were connected to the ones who made it.”

When Jewish fifth-grader Ava and her Muslim cousin Nadeem find themselves the victims of an Antisemitic and Islamophobic bully at school, their Granny Buena decides to cheer them up by telling them a story about their ancestors. With the help of their familial button box, which has been passed down for generations, Granny Buena tells them about their Jewish ancestor’s, Ester ibn Evram, quest to help the Muslim Prince Abdur Rahman find safety from his enemies. After finding a thousand-year-old button in the box that belonged to Ester, Ava and Nadeem find themselves transported back in time to medieval Morocco, where they meet Ester, her family, and Prince Abdur. Can Ava and Nadeem help Ester bring Prince Abdur to safety and get back to their own time? 

What a fun read! Chock-full of action, adventure, and culture, The Button Box has a little something in it for everyone. I really enjoyed Ava and Nadeem’s characters. I thought they were both incredibly funny and wise beyond their years. I also loved the bond between them. Whether it was dealing with their school bully or dealing with the fact that they’d just traveled back a thousand years in time, they had each other’s backs no matter what. Not only was The Button Box thoroughly entertaining, but it was incredibly educational as well. Ava and Nadeem’s religions were a huge aspect of the plot, and I loved getting to learn about them through their experiences and adventures. At the end of the book is a glossary of the Hebrew and Arabic words used throughout the story, as well as an author’s note that tells readers more about Sephardic Jews, Muslims, and the real Prince Abdur Rahman. I thought that the time-travel component of the story was a great way to get young readers interested in learning about different cultures.

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.) 

PRR Writer, Sadie Cruz