Oma’s Buttons by Tania Ingram

“A memory is something warm, something from long ago, something that makes you cry, something that makes you laugh, and something as precious as gold”. (Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge)

Ruthie loves to visit her Oma and spend time baking, playing and singing together. One day while playing hide and seek, Ruthie finds a pretty tin under Oma’s bed filled with her ‘memory buttons’. Ruthie learns each button is a reminder of a special person in Oma’s life and listens closely as Oma tells the story about each one. The red button is from her mother’s apron because she loved to bake, the blue button is from the suit her Opa wore when he proposed to Oma and she even has a green button for Ruthie from her first dress.  When Ruthie spies a beautiful button that came from Oma’s coat she asks if she can keep it to remind her of Oma. Ruthie carries her button with her everywhere until one day the button slips through a hole in her pocket…

Tania Ingram’s mother-in-law was born in a displaced persons camp in Kematen after her family had to flee to safety during World War Two. As a refugee, she held on to her precious memories and family traditions by keeping buttons, lace and pieces of material in a small tin. A few years ago as Tania listened to her mother-in-law sharing the memory behind each precious item in her tin with her granddaughter, the seed was planted for Tania’s heartfelt story Oma’s Buttons

Looking at the detailed colour pencil illustrations by Jennifer Harrison that beautifully capture the special relationship between Ruthie and her Oma, reminded me of baking with my Nan when I was little and how she patiently let me measure, stir (make a mess) and always lick the spoon at the end! Wearing my Nan’s apron when I cook always brings back wonderful warm memories of baking cornflake biscuits and slices together. 

Do you call your grandmother Grandma, Nana, Nan, Nonna, Oma, Yaya or something different? What do you like to do with your grandma?

This is a picture of the real Oma and her granddaughter (on the left) and the models used for the book (on the right).

Oma’s Buttons reminds us that families are made up of stories that link us together and are part of who we are and it’s important to share them so they’re not forgotten. Next time you see your grandparents, ask them to share some of their memories and stories with you and go on a trip down ‘Memory Lane’ together…

Teacher Notes and visit Tania’s website for creative ideas for buttons

Happy reading!