Monday, July 28, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 100

Picture Book: The Memory String

Author: Eve Bunting

Illustrator: Ted Rand

Summary: Laura is struggling to accept her new stepmother, Jane. Laura often clutches her memory string, a string of heirloom buttons from clothing belonging to herself and important members of her family, the most important being her dead mother. As Laura forces her cat to hear explanations of all the buttons, the cat flees and breaks the string. Buttons scatter in the grass. All 3 family members search, but 1 button is still missing at dark. Later Laura overhears a conversation in which her dad wants to replace the missing button, but Jane says, “It’s like a mother. No substitute allowed.” Jane convinces Dad to help her search in the dark. She finds the button but refuses to be the one to return it, believing Laura won’t accept it from her. Instead she leaves the button on the porch for Laura to find. Laura overhears all of this so the next morning she asks Jane to help her re-string the buttons, a small step toward accepting Jane.

Hanna’s Comments: I discovered this book soon after learning how to make and use prayer beads from my friend Kristen Vincent, author of A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner's Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads. This picture book reminded me of the comfort prayer beads can offer and the way in which some prayer beads are created with special care for personal symbolism and memory. If this interests you, I highly recommend Kristen's book and blog at If you decide to focus on the plot’s family dynamics, don’t limit this story to audiences struggling with issues of death or remarriage. All significant changes in families are difficult. Some members adapt more slowly than others. Discovering rituals such as praying with beads can be helpful for coping and improving communication.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Clarion, 2000

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, Amateur video on

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: acceptance, adaptation/assimilation, 
ancestors/patriarchs & matriarchs, artifacts, brokenness, collections, comfort, death/loss/grief, depression/despair/sadness/sorrow, difficulties, emotions/feelings, found, God’s nature, grace, heritage, identity/names, loneliness, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, milestones, mothers, openness, outsiders, parables/stories, parents/parental love, patience, perspective, wisdom 

Scripture Connections: I have stored up your word in my heart (Psalm 119:11); The memory of the righteous is a blessing (Proverbs 10:7)

Idea(s) for Application: Even young children can learn to make and use prayer beads. Use this picture book as an introduction to the power of that ritualized kind of prayer.

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