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.


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


The Curse of the Buttons

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.


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


Poems and Sketches

Friday May 3 / 5-9 pm 

CSUMB Salinas Center for Art and Culture 

1 Main Street, Salinas, California

exhibit runs through August


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, 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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Button Down

Ned Button hasn't made a catch in his life, but that doesn't stop him from dreaming. When Lester Ward goes off to become Goodhue's first Iowa Hawkey, Ned has a chance to win Lester's own football and attend a game at the newly built Iowa Stadium, but not if Lester's younger brother, bully Burton Ward, has can get in his way. 

Picture This

Like my other novels, many of the characters and scenes were inspired by images. While writing The Luck of the Buttons, I kept a postcard of this Grant Wood painting called Plaid Sweater on my wall as Ned. Ned was scruffier than this, and did not have a genuine football, but this is how Ned imagines himself. Read about the actual boy in the painting here


Football Then and Now

I discovered that Kinnick Stadium, formerly known as Iowa Stadium, the home of the University of Iowa Hawkeye football team, was built in 1929, the fall after The Luck of the Buttons takes place. That fact set my imagination in motion for another Button tale, this time Ned's story. Researching football in the 1920s in general and in Iowa specifically was a lot of fun. Here are just a few of the photos I found:

Iowa Stadium thenand now: Kinnick Stadium (from



Ned News

A Birthday Bash!

Fourth graders in Salinas, California held a big party for Ned on Button Down's release day. Check out the fun! 

From Kirkus Reviews:

Ylvisaker (The Luck of the Buttons, 2011) returns to the lovably unlucky Button family, this time with a gentle story about 11-year-old Ned and his love of football.

When local legend-in-the-making Lester Ward goes off to play football for the University of Iowa, he tosses his old football into an eager pack of boys, and surprise of surprises, it is caught by scrawny Ned Button. But when Lester’s younger brother Burton steals the ball away, Ned and his friends are ostracized and reduced to playing with a newspaper-and-twine football on the sidelines. That is, until Granddaddy Ike gets involved. He convinces the group of ragtag youth that football is more about strategy than size, teaching them plays to run against the bigger, tougher boys. And despite a failing heart, Granddaddy arranges to make one of Ned’s dreams—attending a game at the University of Iowa—come true. The precise historical setting—tiny Goodhue, Iowa, in 1929—is not central to this story, though it's carefully drawn. It could happen anyplace where bullies do nothing worse than steal footballs and a grandfather’s advice and love are enough to make a kid feel like he can take on the world.

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. (Historical fiction. 8-11)