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Friday 7 May 2021

Review: Eliza Vanda's Button Box

Master storyteller Emily Rodda , author of the incredibly imaginative and successful, His Name was Walter, has created another magical story. 

Fantastic characters flow through sub-stories whose twists and turns deliver something new with each diversion.

Milly lives in Tidgy Bay with her dad Rory, stepmother and new sister. They rent out cabins for holiday makers. School holidays are approaching with High School at the other end. Rory is building an attic room for Milly to move into, reflecting the change taking place in Milly’s life.



The spiteful Mrs Meaney and her strange cat Sultan keep Rory and Milly on their toes with threats of reports to the council and lots of trouble-making.

A quiet and shy child that mostly keeps to herself, Milly’s life shifts when the mysterious Eliza Vanda moves into one of their cabins.

When Milly goes to give Eliza her receipt and finds the cabin empty, curious, she enters a world of unimagined surroundings, including a treadle sewing machine.

Eliza is working on a wedding dress and there are boxes of beads, buttons, laces and all things connected, in rows on shelves. Where did they come from if she came with only two bags? She discovers a button box on the shelf and opens it.

Unknown to Milly, the contents of the box are instrumental to time travel, magical places, and communication.

After Eliza asks Milly to deliver something to someone for her, she offers her a warm coat to wear, with three buttons sewn into the pocket. She puts a mouse named Oliver inside the collar to accompany her. Eliza whispers a rhyme in Milly’s ear and tells her that by reciting these words, she will return home safely.

Oliver transforms into a boy on arrival in Blanca, a place where people display their emotions through some decorative but strange form or another. They call this their mysie.

After Milly resolves a difficult situation, Oliver realises she has a gift for Travelling, and is a talented mender of problems. This display of strength of character and perception, gives Milly the chance to see herself through other's eyes.

Although these magical adventures reshape Milly into a glowing, confident girl, Eliza’s time at Tidgy Bay is nearly over and one last dilemma needs to be solved.

Title: Eliza Vanda's Button Box
Author: Emily Rodda
 Publisher: Harper Collins, $ 22.99
Publication Date: 5 May 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781460759608
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction