Eliza Vanda's Button Box

Publication Date: 5 May 2021
Format: Hardback

ISBN 9781460759608

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    From the author of the award-winning His Name was Walter comes another magical mystery story that will delight Emily Rodda fans.

    Buttons three, attend to me!

    Take me where I want to be!

    No one saw Eliza Vanda arrive in Tidgy Bay that rainy winter afternoon. The sign advertising 'Cabins for Rent' was almost hidden by a pile of builder's rubble, but Eliza Vanda didn't seem at all put out by the mess.

    'This is a nice little pocket,' she said. 'It should suit us very well.'

    Life hasn't been much fun for Milly Dynes lately. There seem to be problems everywhere she looks. She's always loved her home in Tidgy Bay, but at the moment she wishes she was somewhere -anywhere - else.

    Then Eliza Vanda turns up-and magic comes with her ...

    A sparkling new fantasy adventure from multi-award-winning author Emily Rodda.


    Notable - CBCA Younger Reader's Book 2022
    Shortlisted - Australian Book Design Awards 2022


    Book Type: Junior Chapter
    Age Group: 9 years +
    Traffic Lights: Amber
    Class Novel: No
    Good Reads Rating: 5/5
    Literary Rating: 4.5/5


    Milly’s home at the holiday cabins of Tidgy Bay can be lively during the summer—but in the off-season, when the cabins aren’t rented, life is desolate. Her mother’s pregnant and staying in a hospital hours away; while her father works to renovate the upper level of their home so Milly will have a room all to herself when the baby comes. Across the road, Mrs Meaney and her spoilt cat Sultan keep a watchful eye on the cabins. Milly’s lonely and feeling low—until the mysterious Eliza Vanda (EV) appears!

    EV is a quirky travelling dressmaker. She invites Milly for a tea party with her mouse, Victor, and asks for assistance running an errand. Milly agrees to help her out, and EV sews three buttons into her jacket—buttons that send Milly to another “patch”, or world.

    EV keeps three buttons from each patch she visits to enable her to return—either for dressmaking or for “mending“, which is what she calls fixing problems.

    Milly goes patch-travelling for her while she’s working on a last-minute commission: a wedding dress for Princess Rosie of Gallop. Theoretically, she’s just getting supplies for the dress with Victor’s help. But Milly’s a natural at mending, and she finds herself sucked into other people’s problems: a shop owner who’s lost his temper (a small animal called a mysie), a witch who looks like a helpless girl, and a princess who doesn’t want to kiss a frog. As she goes along, her compassion and cool head help her to forge connections and find compromises. The last problem she solves is the mystery of EV’s missing coat-button, leaving EV to travel herself again; but rest assured, that’s not the last Milly will see of the mysterious Eliza Vanda! Milly has regained her self-esteem and has come to realise that she isn’t being pushed out of the family by the new baby.

    This is a fabulous combination of The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins. The message of resilience, courage, and care for others shines through in every interaction. Gentle humour, whimsical settings, and colourful characters keep the pace moving quickly. A genuine pleasure to read.


    fantasy, travel, other worlds, courage, problem solving, helping others, fairy tale magic, compassion

    Content Notes

    Eliza Vanda has a box of magic buttons. She can teleport to the buttons’ place of origin—this is called “patch travelling” as the places are called “patches”. Her helper, Victor, first appears as a mouse—some patches he is a boy, some he is a mouse. Discussion of witches on several occasions, specifically the Shimmer Witch. Eliza Vanda took the Shimmer Witch’s wand away so she can’t use magic. She has access to magical items and tries to trick people into getting trapped by them. Discussion of “wicked witches” (p. 105-106). Encounter with the Shimmer Witch disguised as a young girl (p. 134-178). Mention of Greek myth of Scylla and Charybdis (p. 15).

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