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Button Box Review

A beautiful interfaith fantasy story with time travel, a wise cat, and historical fiction woven through it! #ARC

Genre: Middle Grade

Ages: 9-12

Available: Amazon (preorder before April 1st)

Screening: this is a fantasy tale, so there are elements of time travel and mystical vibes, an ayah seemed slightly mistranslated (nothing unclean)

Nadeem and Ava are cousins. Nadeem is Muslim and Ava is Jewish. During an afternoon at their Granny’s, they stumble upon a special button in a button box. Their grandmother tells them the tale of their relative Ester and how she saved the prince Abd-AlRahman of Cordoba. While Granny is asleep, the kids are transported back in time and have to decide what to do. Do they stay as bystanders and witness injustice in history, or step in and become the heroes of their past?

I enjoyed reading this book and it is an adventurous kid-friendly tale with a lot of multi-cultural and multi-faith lessons. Ava is a Sephardic Jew (Jews from a North African/Mediterranean/Spanish background) and Nadeem a Muslim, and the book included prayers from both religions, parables, references, and beautiful mutual respect from all sides. I loved how all characters emphasized that their religions promote peace (Salaam, Shalom is said at some point) and that no matter who it is they see struggling, they are all obliged to help.

I liked the historical aspect and the useful information about Caliph Abd Al-Rahman of Cordoba and how he was the ruler of a golden age of Spain where Muslims and Jews lived side by side peacefully. I liked that this book showed both the Jewish and Muslim characters as heroes in their own right and shows the importance of standing up for justice, a lesson Ava and Nadeem both carry on back into their regular lives.

I loved the little details of Morocco and Morroccan culture, the little tidbits about Spanish history, and how Nadeem and Ava worked together as a team. I especially loved their granny and her parables.

A delightful tale and one sure to be useful for school age children of all backgrounds.

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