Michael Morpurgo’s Lucky Button is a simply told fictional tale with a story within a story structure and dotted with historical facts artfully woven into the narrative.
Jonah is a boy with a lot of burden. His mother had an accident that left her bound to a wheelchair and very feeling low. He has to take care of her and at school the kids bully him a lot. No wonder that he is lonely and sad. To escape the trouble he has at school, Jonah often hides in the school chapel.
Here he finds a small button that leads him to meet the ghost who has been residing there for hundreds of years. The building was once a place called Foundling Hospital, a real place, and the ghost was abandoned there as a baby. As the two form an unusual friendship, a fictional story, based on historical facts, starts.
We get to know that Nat, the ghost, was Mozart’s companion in the eighteenth century and led an interesting life that included encounters with other historical figures of the time. In his secret meetings with his ghost friend, Jonah momentarily forgets his worries and learn a few life’s lessons.
The writer uses the ghost as a convenient tool to show Jonah a way to face and overcome his problems without being directly guided. It is Jonah who has to find the courage inside him and he does. The end is all full of hope as things get sorted a bit too conveniently for Jonah.
Lucky Button is beautifully illustrated by Michael Foreman, with illustrations, both in colour, and black and white, finding space in many pages, adding to the reading pleasure of those who have not outgrown enjoying story books full of illustrations.
It’s a heart-warming story, but not too remarkable because children who have no idea about the European history and historical figures mentioned in it can find it boring. But, thankfully, the book is not one of the prank-filled ones that are such a rage these days with preteens and teens — you know what I am talking about.
Published in Dawn, Young World, June 29th, 2019