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Jemmy Button

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  196 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
A beautiful collaboration based on a true story.

Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali discovered a mutual interest in this story and overcame language obstacles with the help of translators. Jemmy Button, a native of Tierra del Fuego, was brought to England in the mid-1800s to be "educated and civilized." The book illustrates Jemmy’s adventures in England, his extraordinary enc
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Templar (first published 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 355)
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May 07, 2014 Ruth rated it it was ok
Shelves: picturebooks
Illustrations give pause to linger on each page. Large, over-sized, often full-page spreads without borders use silhouettes and bold splashes of color to draw the reader's to attention the big ideas in the text. However, the overall story perspective is NOT that of the child protagonist, but rather that of a "subjective" other explicating facts, which allows (even leads) young readers to infer a Disney-like capture, integration into European society, and uneventful return home with few emotional ...more
Jun 24, 2015 Lily rated it it was amazing
Jemmy Button is such an important children's story. I'm now obsessed with Jemmy Button's life. I love the part in the book, when Jemmy gets back to the island and sheds all his clothes. It's such a beautiful moment in history and not many people know about it. I would have loved to have seen and experienced that. I also think it's neat that Charles Darwin was on the boat that took him home. I believe Jemmy Button and his people were kidnapped and I would have preferred that to be depicted in the ...more
Vincent Desjardins
If I could, I would give the illustrations in this book a separate rating of 5 stars. They are truly beautiful. The two page spread with Jemmy looking out a ship's port-hole at the ocean teeming with marine life is spectacular. The spare text, on the other hand, left me wanting more. What happened to the real Orundellico (aka Jemmy Button) had to have been a traumatic event, one I'm sure that must have left life-long scars. The real Orundellico was taken from his people as a young boy and sent t ...more
Apr 18, 2013 Samantha rated it really liked it
A beautiful picture book inspired by a true story. Taken from his island home as a child and taken to Victorian England for instruction in the ways of proper living, Jemmy Button (as he is known because his parents were given a pearl button in exchange for him) conforms to society but only just quite.

Years later, when Jemmy returns to his island home he quickly sheds his proper clothing and attempts to relearn his native language for he knew he was finally home.

Gouache, oil paintings, and colla
Chris Austin
Mar 23, 2016 Chris Austin rated it really liked it
I feel the illustrations throughout the story offer lots of deep thought and conversational points with the children, the idea of only Jemmy and his family being drawn with life like colour and all the European folk are silhouettes of varying degree, for me shows the strong link Jemmy will always have with home.

There is one page in particular I like because it discusses Jemmy wanting a cap and clothes. And the illustrations have him coloured and drawn in a similar way to the 'pets' of the Engli
Illustrated by Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali, with words by Alix Barzelay, the book's first U.S. edition was published in 2013.

I feel deeply uncomfortable with this text.

The contexts of O'run-del'lico (aka Jemmy Button)'s story as told through Uman and Vadali's picture book feel wrong to me. While the illustrations continuously cast the British as faceless silhouettes (a powerful choice) and draw attention to O'run-del'lico in color and detail, the story resonates the colonizers' point of vi
Kaley Robinson
Feb 22, 2015 Kaley Robinson rated it really liked it
Personal response - At first I thought the book was relatable that sometimes we don't feel at home. This hit home for me after moving out during college. It was more interesting after reading the last page saying this book was based on a true story. I liked that the story was true and that it was an easy way to understand history. The illustrations were colorful and used the whole page which really helped the story come alive.

Read aloud for enrichment
- students may be able to relate to
Dec 14, 2013 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: nf-picture-books
More interesting than the pages within the book was how the book was created - by two authors/illustrators on two continents who didn't share the same spoken language. I didn't know the story of Orundellico (aka Jemmy Button) prior to this reading. It gives me another perspective on living in two very different parts of the world.
Mar 07, 2013 Bill rated it liked it
Captivating illustration. As an informational book, not so captivating. The account of what happened to Jemmy Button is unsatisfying and lacking detail of the effects of his abduction.
Edward Sullivan
Mar 09, 2013 Edward Sullivan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A beautifully rendered true story about an indigenous boy from Tierra del Fuego who is transported to London in the early 1800s, where he encounters a vastly different world.
Juliana Lee
Jemmy Button lived on an island far away. He wore no clothes, climbed the highest trees, and counted the stars in the sky. One day, visitors from far away came and asked him to travel with them across the ocean to their land. They gave his mother a pearl button in exchange for his leaving. In the new land Jemmy found people in unusual clothes, buildings taller than trees, and he learned their ways. Then it came time to return to his island home. Jemmy traveled back across the ocean. When he got ...more
Mar 07, 2014 Kelsey rated it it was ok
Shelves: art
The illustrations are beautiful but the emotionless, minimalist writing hampers the whole book. I did, however, enjoy the fact that all the Europeans are seen as indistinguishable silhouettes.

The following review puts it well. "The overall story perspective is NOT that of the child protagonist, but rather that of a "subjective" other explicating facts, which allows (even leads) young readers to infer a Disney-like capture, integration into European society, and uneventful return home with few em
Lynn  Davidson
Mar 07, 2016 Lynn Davidson rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this story. It's about a real person whose life was drastically changed for the sake of research and study. I feel the details are skimmed over, which might be good for a picture book, but also what of the depth of the truth?
On its own, as a picture book, this is a good story. The illustrations are interesting and show the huge difference made in one boy's life as he was taken from his people to a completely different culture.
May 11, 2014 emma rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, arty, picture-books
so yes i really love reading adorable picture books.
a perk of my job.
i read them a lot.
don't usually review them. but i thought i'd add a couple i read yesterday.

omgh the pictures in this are so sweet and pretty.
and the story's good.
i do find it really really sad that the 'civilized' would take the 'uncivilized' and 'civilize' them. I MEAN SERIOUSLY.
(also, how many more times do you think i can use a word of 'civil' in a sentence?)
Traci Bold
Mar 16, 2016 Traci Bold rated it it was amazing
Reading JEMMY BUTTON put me though many emotions, joy, fear, sadness, anger and joy again. How dare the English aristocrats take a boy from his native home to 'educate' him to their liking. For me, the ending was most satisfying and I cheered for Orundellico!

Written by Jennifer Uman and illustrated by Valerio Vidali. Published by Templar Publishing.
Sandy Irwin
Apr 14, 2014 Sandy Irwin rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Based on a true story, this book highlights the story of a young boy, taken from his island home to England in the early 1800s, and how, after some years, was returned home. He immediately shed his new Victorian ways to embrace his home and culture. I loved the illustrations, but the story did not capture what "Jemmy Button" must have gone through.
Jan 25, 2016 Earl rated it liked it
Based on a true story of a young boy taken from his island home to be raised in Victorian England. I wished there were more or that it went deeper but that probably wouldn't be suited for kids. Imagine the unnecessary fear and confusion this boy suffered for the sake of this experiment.

Unique illustrations style.
Beth Schencker
Nov 19, 2014 Beth Schencker rated it it was amazing
This story follows Jemmy's (a native of Tierra de Fuego) adventures in England, his bizarre and extraordinary encounters there, his experience as an outsider in a new land and culture, and his return back home.This book focuses on the theme of distance and homesickness.
Lauren Colton
Jun 10, 2014 Lauren Colton rated it liked it
A very interesting story of a young boy who is brought to America and taught the ways of civilized people, when he is allowed to return he goes back to his old ways. Great text for a fun read aloud or to use with a diversity unit. Beautiful and very interesting illustrations.
Julie B
Dec 11, 2013 Julie B rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
In exchange for a mother-of-pearl button, a young boy named Orundellico is taken from his home at the tip of South America and brought to England by Captain Robert FitzRoy. Given a new name, Jemmy Button learns ways of Christianity and Victorian upper-class culture. Striking collage illustrations show how Jemmy never quite fits in in England. When he returns to South America years later, he sheds his clothes and is home. His nature has not been altered by any nurturing in England.

I adore the ill
Lori Gravley
Mar 10, 2016 Lori Gravley rated it really liked it
How do you introduce children to the idea of colonialism and it's problems? This book is a start. But it's also a sweet and lovingly illustrated tale about fitting in and finding home.
Ms Threlkeld
An interesting, beautifully illustrated story based on real events. Kids will be intrigued by Jemmy's journey and have a lot to say about Jemmy being taken from his home.
Mar 10, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
I learned a little something, but the storyline was not that exciting. The illustrations is what gave this rating.
Dec 30, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 3rd grade and up
Gorgeous artwork. Lush greens of the island, muted and more dull colors for England. The art is the selling point of this book although the narrative is fairly well done. The story raises some unanswered questions though about European explorers/travelers taking "savages" back home. Jemmy is shown almost always somewhat apart from others as he learns about his new European home. In the end, Jemmy returns to his true home which was his native land.

NY Times Best Illustrated 2013 list
Debby Baumgartner
True story of a little boy taken from his island home to live in England then returned to his island by Captain Robert FitzRoy.
I wanted to know more about Orundellico's life after reading Jemmy Button.
James Koppert
Apr 06, 2016 James Koppert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The illustrations made you pause on every page to ponder. Lovely book
Jul 02, 2014 Camille rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-bks
I like the illustrations (Color contrasts, mixed media usage).
This is a very simplified story of Jemmy Button, a native from Tierra del Fuego who was taught the European lifestyle and then returned to his native land. He adjusted pretty well to life in the new world, but felt most at home among his people. The illustrations are beautiful and detailed, and the text is small enough that it doesn't obstruct the images. Lovely!
The Styling Librarian
Jemmy Button by Jennifer Uman & Valerio Vidali – Fascinating look at a boy who was taken from his native land and brought to England to adjust and be put on show. When he returned to his island, he relearned his language and quickly adjusted to native life. Interesting discussion opportunities connect to this book. Why do people insist that their life is better than others? Should people interfere and take a native person away from home?
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