Anne's Bio: the formal, condensed version:
Anne Ylvisaker is the author of the middle grade novels Button Down, The Luck of the Buttons, Little Klein, and Dear Papa, all from Candlewick Press, as well as an award winning board book, and nineteen nonfiction books for young readers. In 2005 Anne was awarded the McKnight Artist Fellowship/Loft Award in Children’s Literature. She has a master’s degree in education.
Anne grew up near the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Until 2006, she spent her adult life just across the river in Saint Paul, teaching and writing. After four years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Anne moved to Monterey, California where she lives with her husband Dan.
And the back story:
I've been a writer all my life, though it wasn't until my late 30s that I started writing for publication.
My family drove from our home in Minneapolis, Minnesota to the coast of South Carolina every spring when I was a kid. From the time we could hold a pencil, my mother gave us notebooks for those trips. I'm sure they were meant as distraction for the three rapscallions in the back seat, but we kids took them seriously. My younger brother wrote about how big everything was, as in the flower at the botanical gardens reaching only as far as my father's ankle. My sister, being the oldest, kept her notebooks private. I detailed every meal - what each person ate, who got the most, and whether or not mine was the best. Food is still one of my favorite subjects.
The Ylvisakers are a letter writing family. We have collections of letters from several generations past. The old letters are stories, really, full of humor and pathos and the hardships and joys of family life. It was natural then, for me to correspond throughout my childhood with a cousin in Idaho as well as a pen pal in the homeland of Norway. Dear Papa got its spark from the search for a lost letter my Aunt Betty had written in her childhood to her father before he died.
In college, I went into elementary education in part because I couldn't decide between all the subjects I loved to study. Elementary school is the ultimate liberal arts education. As a teacher I could immerse myself and my students in the sciences, in literature, in art. Eventually, I was able to use the knowledge of those subjects to take on assignments for writing books that children use for research. I researched and wrote about oceans, lakes, rescue vehicles, natural disasters, and parts of the body.
Along the way I was fortunate enough to take a class from the late great Judy Delton, author of more than 200 books for young readers and a gifted teacher. Judy saved me years of my life by telling me, in no uncertain terms, what wasn't working in my writing. In one memorable class, she fell asleep while I read. I stopped working on that novel immediately, and by the next class had started what was to become my first published novel, Dear Papa.
My second novel Little Klein was finished just as I moved from Minnesota to Iowa. I lived in a city where beautiful corn fields and tall prairie grasses were just a short drive or bike ride away.
As I worked on The Luck of the Buttons, my family and I moved to Monterey, California where I am reveling in the some of the same salt water experiences I wrote about in my childhood travel notebooks.