Cover image for The memory string
The memory string
Bunting, Eve, 1928-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
32 pages : color illustrations ; 26 cm
While still grieving for her mother and unable to accept her stepmother, a girl clings to the memories represented by forty-three buttons on a string.
Reading Level:
AD 290 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.9 0.5 43558.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.4 2 Quiz: 22066 Guided reading level: N.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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Each button on Laura's memory string represents a piece of her family history. The buttons Laura cherishes the most belonged to her mother--a button from her prom dress, a white one off her wedding dress, and a single small button from the nightgown she was wearing on the day she died. When the string breaks, Laura's new stepmother, Jane, is there to comfort Laura and search for a missing button, just as Laura's mother would have done. But it's not the same--Jane isn't Mom. In Eve Bunting's moving story, beautifully illustrated by Ted Rand, Laura discovers that a memory string is not just for remembering the past: it's also for recording new memories.

Author Notes

Eve Bunting was born in 1928 in Maghera, Ireland, as Anne Evelyn Bunting. She graduated from Northern Ireland's Methodist College in Belfast in 1945 and then studied at Belfast's Queen's College. She emigrated with her family in 1958 to California, and became a naturalized citizen in 1969.

That same year, she began her writing career, and in 1972, her first book, "The Two Giants" was published. In 1976, "One More Flight" won the Golden Kite Medal, and in 1978, "Ghost of Summer" won the Southern California's Council on Literature for Children and Young People's Award for fiction. "Smokey Night" won the American Library Association's Randolph Caldecott Medal in 1995 and "Winter's Coming" was voted one of the 10 Best Books of 1977 by the New York Times.

Bunting is involved in many writer's organizations such as P.E.N., The Authors Guild, the California Writer's Guild and the Society of Children's Book Writers. She has published stories in both Cricket, and Jack and Jill Magazines, and has written over 150 books in various genres such as children's books, contemporary, historic and realistic fiction, poetry, nonfiction and humor.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. It's hard to accept a stepmother, especially when your own mother has died. As Laura watches her father and her stepmother, Jane, paint the porch of their new home, she begins loudly telling her cat about her treasured memory string of buttons. There's one from her great-grandmother's first "grown-up" dress, one from her mother's wedding gown, and most precious to her mother, a button snipped off Laura's father's uniform when he came home from the Gulf War. It is this button that goes missing when the cat breaks the string and the buttons scatter. Then, during a late-night search, Jane finds the uniform button. Laura overhears the knowing Jane say it would be best if the button reappeared as a gift from a good fairy. Now, Laura is ready to begin to accept Jane. This is pure bibliotherapy--Jane helps locate the buttons, but knows when to pull back. The earnestness, however, is balanced with tenderness, and Rand's realistic artwork concentrates on the faces of the family and the emotions that cross them. Some children will find this touches them very deeply. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Resentful of her new stepmother, Laura clings to a family heirloom, a "memory string" of buttons taken from special garments. As her father and her stepmother, Jane, paint the porch, Laura sits apart and fingers each button, loudly telling her cat about her great-grandmother's first "grown-up dress," her father's Gulf War service uniform and, last, the nightgown her mother was wearing when she died. Bunting's (Smoky Night) prose is as sure-footed as ever, but is much encumbered here by a contrived plot that has Laura losing the buttons and the family coming together in the search for them. A rapprochement between Laura and Jane, who finds the final missing button, is all but inevitable. Even Rand's (Baby in a Basket) light-dappled watercolors can't rescue the story from its didactic intent; this is likelier to engage adults looking for books that address a particular subject (such as stepparenting) than children. Ages 5-8. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Within hearing of her new stepmother, Laura meanly recounts to her disinterested cat what each button on her memory string means. There's one from her great-grandmother's first grown-up dress, another from her mother's wedding dress, and one from the nightgown the woman was wearing when she died three years ago. When the impatient feline jumps away, breaking the string, the buttons fly everywhere. Laura's father and Jane help find all but one of them, but the girl is inconsolable. In the night, she hears them debating about whether to cut an identical button from her father's military uniform. Jane insists, "Laura would rather have that button missing than have a replacement-It's like a mother. No substitute allowed." She finds the lost item with a flashlight and she puts it on the porch where Laura can see it without being offended by the finder. However, in the morning the child has had a change of heart and asks Jane's help in restringing the beads. Rand's oversized, light-dappled watercolor pictures show the love and loyalty between the father and his new wife and their love for the prickly and still-grieving Laura. Bunting trusts readers to interpret behavior and understand complex emotions without her having to provide a moral or dramatic ending. Instead, the story offers a hopeful beginning and invites readers to think about ways to remember family history-including making one's own button memory string.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.