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Jemmy Button






This book was published back in 2013 and was inspired by the true story of Orundellico, a 12 year-old native boy from Tierra del Fuego who in 1830 was bought from his family for the price of a mother-of-pearl button. Taken to England and given the name of Jemmy Button, he was then returned to his people as an emissary of civilisation three years later. On board of the Beagle, during that second voyage to Patagonia, was a young naturalist, Charles Darwin.

While in London, Jemmy attended a school in Walthamstow and learnt English, which he continued to speak once he had returned home, keeping his English name.

The book comes from the collaboration between Berlin-based Italian illustrator Valerio Vidali (The Forest) and NYC-based painter Jennifer Uman and tells about Jemmy's encounters as an outsider in an unfamiliar land and his emotional return to home.
The simple narrative and the large double page spread illustrations make this unconventional, somehow difficult but inspiring story accessible to young children, omitting the difficulties encountered by the boy in re-entering his environment.

Jemmy Bottom's fate was taken as a proof that civilisation shall eventually rule the world, his story is the story of anyone who was caught in the thrall of Colonialism.[The Things of Civilisation]
-
Jemmy Button [2013]
by Valerio Vidali and Jennifer Uman
English-language edition published by Templar Publishing
Reading age: 4+
Themes: Identity, Freedom, History


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