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

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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Poetry Barn

I got an email from the home goods store Pottery Barn recently, but in my bleary morning-eyed state I misread it as Poetry Barn and eagerly opened the message. I hope it’s near Monterey, I thought, already anticipating what I might find inside and going through my calendar in my head to plan a visit. Never has attractive patio furniture been so disappointing.

It got me thinking, though, about poetry and the west and I remembered hearing that my new hometown has an annual Cowboy Poetry Festival in December. Turns out there is also a website dedicated to Cowboy Poetry where, among many other fantastic programs,  a Lariat Laureate is chosen from among the many cowboy poets. 

Lariat is one of the great cowboy words. According to my Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, lariat is an American English word from 1832 meaning lasso, and borrowed from the Spanish la reata, the rope.

We were lucky enough to visit a ranch in south Monterey County recently where we saw the lariat put to use with elegant expertise, poetry in motion.  


Xing the Road

In the Midwest I was familiar with road signs warning of all manner of danger while driving: deer crossing, pedestrians crossing, even turtles and ducks crossing the road. But in a new land, new cautions. In California: wild boar. The little silhouetted pigs traipsing across the yellow signs made me laugh when we first moved here, and I was anxious to spot the real thing. It took eight weeks, but Saturday I finally saw my first wild boar. Here is the family of three that crossed our path in south Monterey County.


Balloon it

A balloon blew into my car today, just as I closed my door. I jumped out to look for its tow - a wailing child - but there was none. So home it rode with me and sits on my desk, anchored by the toy bear key chain it flew in on. Funny, just this morning I was researching balloons, fact checking for the manuscript just launched. The fictional toy balloon gets just a line, barely a notice, but led to me these interesting facts:

The word balloon has been around for nearly 500 years, its origins perhaps from a game played with a leather ball. 

Balloons have been refrenced in books as far back as Swiss Family Robinson and Moby Dick.

Before rubber, balloons were made from animal bladders.

Bed rolls were once called balloons, especially among loggers, and to "balloon it" meant to pack up and leave camp. 


Surf Words A to Z

I walked at high tide yesterday and the ocean was heaving and rolling, enormous waves crashing against the cliffs. Along the swells, a scattering of dark figures. Sharks? I thought. No, surfers, waiting to hitch a ride. At home, I searched the web for surfing words and came across this surfing dictionary. A sample from a to z (minus x):

ahu, bammerwee, chuf, duckdive, endo, floatwaller, gremmy, hennalu, isobath, jivel, kootzy, lexidex, muku, narb, ollie, paralax, quasimoto, redonculous, shibby, tapioca twizzler, upwelling, velzyland, waldo, yardsale and zimzala.

I'm not ready to pick up a board or put on a wet suit, but I am in favor of any hobby with its own dictionary. 


waving from the coast

Three weeks ago my family and I and all our belongings crossed Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada into California spring. I went from a lifetime of living on an inside piece of the jigsaw puzzle of the country to one of the outside edges. I can’t get enough of the ocean, the sea, the briny, the drink. 

Two lists of wave words from Chambers Compact Thesaurus:

breaker, roller, billow, ripple, comber, foam, froth, swell, surf, tidal wave, wavelet, undulation, white horse. 

brandish, flourish, flap, flutter, stir, shake, sway, swing, waft, quiver, ripple, surge