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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« Thank you, Librarians! | Main | Enter the Leopold »

Through the Lens

Tugs looked down through her camera’s viewfinder and pivoted slowly all the way around and down and up. It was like watching a movie, seeing the bandstand, the bakery, the soft evening sky go by in that tiny frame. These were the same ordinary sights she’d been seeing her whole life, but suddenly they were sharp and beautiful, like little jewels collected in a box. (The Luck of the Buttons, p 102)

My first camera was a Kodak Brownie Box, the Hawkeye model. It was my summer of being twelve and Dutch Elm Disease was rampant in Minneapolis. City workers painted red lines around the trunks of doomed trees on the boulevards on my street, and though the infected trees appeared healthy, they were to be cut down within the week.

I remember standing in the middle of the street looking down through the lens of my Brownie at the long rows of elms. I noticed for the first time the perfect arch they made of the three-block length of 47th Avenue. I couldn’t save our beloved trees, but the act of taking a picture made me feel empowered, like I was witnessing and preserving a small piece of my neighborhood’s history. 

It was a piece of Kodak camera history that led me to setting The Luck of the Buttons in the year 1929. The first Brownie came out in 1900 and was made expressly to put photography in the hands of children. In 1930, to celebrate the company's 50th Anniversary, Kodak gave free Brownie cameras to children who turned twelve that year. 

I set my story in 1929 because I wanted Tugs to have a camera before most of her friends. I chose the Number 2 F Model for Tugs, which came in five colors. She was able to get her favorite color, green. And, lucky me, I found one just like it on ebay. 82 years old and it still works!

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