On shelves now!

Ike Button, 11 and an endearing combination of credulous and cranky, is a high-energy wannabe hero who is constantly getting knocked down. And that's what makes him such fun. ... The characters charm, and the material is enhanced by the author's well-realized rendition of time and place. -Kirkus

Details here.

Button Down


Short chapters, simple yet meticulous language, a wholesome feel and the universal story of a boy with a dream combine to give this one widespread appeal. -Kirkus

Details and a sample chapter here

Indie Next Selection


It'll stick in your brain long after you've read it, this one, and you'll be glad that it's in there. -Fuse #8 blog

Hear a sample here.


Winner of the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award

A boy, his dog, a raft, a river, the falls...


Booklist Top Ten Youth First Novel

Can writing a letter mend a heart, unite a family, help a girl grow up?

Teachers and Book Groups


If I had to answer in one word the question

Where do ideas come from?

I'd say 


It's all about the wondering

read more


Ylvisaker = ILL vi soccer

News and Guest Blogs

Ike's hometown newspaper in 1861 was the Keokuk Daily Gate City, so it's fun to have that same paper featuring an article about The Curse of the Buttons.

For their quirky celebrations feature, Kidsreads.com celebrates National Button Day with an interview about The Curse of the Buttons.

How setting inspires story, a Curse of the Buttons guest post on the blog of marvelous Elizabeth Dulemba. 

Thanks to the Monterey County Weekly for this feature article, including an excerpt from Button Down. 

I'm honored to be November's Star Author for Christchurch New Zealand Library's Kids Blog. Find writing tricks and treats, ideas for using pictures as story starters, and small collections any writer can start. Tiny Collections and Growing a Story: The art of doing nothing are also posted here on my website. 

Just Launched is the Children's Literature Network's spot to read the behind the scenes scoop on newly released books. Here's my contribution about Button Down

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday's Barbara Watson and I chat about the writing process in a post she calls Buttoning Down

In the Children's Literature Network's Bookscope, I look back at how Little Klein came about. I've made some lucky mistakes in my day, and this is the story of one of them. 

Novel and Nouveau is Barbara Watson's excellent blog about writing and reading middle grade lit. She generously reviewed The Luck of the Buttons recently, and asked me to write a guest post about process as well. 

Bruce Black, author of Writing Yoga, interviewed me about process on his wonderful blog wordswimmer. Thanks, Bruce!

To celebrate The Luck of the Buttons release, there was a pie party on Amy Alessio's excellent Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts blog! Read and bake here: Memory PieIt's All About the CrustPie Worthy, and Launch Day Pie. Then try Amy's excellent pie craft

Children's Literature Network interviewer Tom Owens asks me, What's right with children's literature today? Libraries, that's what!

Find books at:



  • Button Down
    Button Down
    by Anne Ylvisaker
  • The Luck of the Buttons
    The Luck of the Buttons
    by Anne Ylvisaker
  • Little Klein
    Little Klein
    by Anne Ylvisaker
  • Dear Papa
    Dear Papa
    by Anne Ylvisaker
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Where do ideas come from?


Without them we have nothing to write.

But where do they come from? 


For me, ideas come from asking questions.

Dear Papa grew out of the questions, why would a nine year old write a letter to her father after he'd died, and what would she say to him?

I was visiting my Aunt Betty and asked her what it was like for her when her dad, my grandfather, died when she was in elementary school. She told me she'd written him a letter before he died and I asked to see it. We searched everywhere but couldn't find that letter. In the process, though, we found lots of photographs and she told me stories about my grandpa and life in the 1940s.

Later, back at home, I kept thinking about that letter. I misremembered the details and thought she'd written to him after he'd died. So I wrote a letter, making up what I thought a girl like her might have wanted to say. My own father had died not long before and what I missed most was not being able to tell him all the little details of everyday life so that's what I had this girl talk about. When I got to the end of the letter, I signed it with the first name that popped into my head, Isabelle. 

Then I kept wondering what happens next, so I kept writing letters. 

The cover photos for Dear Papa are family photos. 

This is Aunty Betty and my mom. Sorry you didn't make the cover, Mom!


My grandpa, like Papa in the book, had a filling station in St. Paul, at Randolph and Griggs.  


When I was a kid, my mom would drive us past her childhood home at 1234 Palace in St. Paul. I grew up on a street named 37th Avenue. I was sure living at such a romantic address as 1234 Palace would add tremendous excitement to my life. This is a photo of 1234 Palace in the 1940s and the fictional Isabelle's home.