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BUTTON UP! By Alice Schertle Pictures by Petra Mathers

Button Up Picture

Schertle, Alice. 2009. Button Up! Ill. By Petra Mathers. New York: Harcourt Children’s Books. ISBN: 9780152050504.

Plot Summary

Alice Schertle’s Button Up! is a sweet collection of poems that highlight the triumphs and tribulations of one of our basic needs: our clothes! From shoelaces to jammies to a puffy blue jacket, all these items come together to tell how they see the world. Children of all ages will find something about which to chuckle when reading these “wrinkled” rhymes.

Critical Analysis

Through Button Up! children are able to see themselves mirrored through the animals on the pages. With young mice, rabbits, pigs, alligators, and bears as the wearers of each item, young children will find a connection to the poetry. Most of the bouncy, rhythmic poems follow the A-B-C-B format, which create a light-hearted feeling while reading these poems out loud and captures the attention of young children quite well.

Petra Mathers’ watercolor illustrations on cold-press paper are whimsical and create a nursery rhyme feel. Suited to young children, the characters’ sweet, gentle expressions add to the nursery rhyme feel and further construct personification of the clothing item. This is evidenced in the illustration that accompanies “Tanya’s Old T-Shirt”. While the poem exudes personification through word choice, the illustration further personifies the t-shirt.

Tanya’s Old T-Shirt

I live in a bucket shoved under a stair.
They call me a dust rag!
I don’t think it’s fair.

I’m still the same size as when I was new.
I didn’t shrink—
it was Tanya who GREW.

She started out small and we fit to a T.
Now she’s big as a sofa!
She’s tall as a tree!
She’s out of control, and they’re dusting with me!

You’ll never, not ever
Hear anyone say,
“She’s gotten too big, she’s just in the way,
let’s dust the piano with Tanya today.”

button up t-shirt


English teachers could use this collection to show examples of figurative language such as simile, personification, and onomatopoeia.
Teachers could use these as inspiration for students to bring an item from home and create a poem using the types of figurative language in the book, primarily personification.
Teachers of young children could have the students bring a favorite item of clothing about which to write a poem.


About lisamscott1

I am a school librarian completing my studies at Texas Woman's University. The focus of this blog is poetry, which I love.

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