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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Does it get any better than this?

Thanks, Lauren Stringer, for pointing me to Visual Thesaurus, an online wordie paradise (promised land, nirvana, heaven, Shangri-la, Eden). Word mapping is addictive (habit-forming). And the column Fresh Ink is a...well...fresh (novel, original, new; also invigorating, bracing, refreshing, brisk) take on language. Don't miss the entry on Crash Blossoms. There is a word of the day, word lists made from chapters of books and speeches (or make your own), lesson plans, contests, and more. I am partial to traditional, hard cover reference books, but Visual Thesaurus may be my new favorite tool (implement, instrument).



I used the word bumbershoot in an email today and discovered that it is a regionalism. I love finding words, like independent stores, that can't be found in every state in every strip mall and coffee shop.

According to DARE, bumbershoot (umbrella) has been heard most places east of the Mississippi, beginning back in 1896. It is a combination of bumbrella and shoot, from chute. Some of its delightful cousins include: blundershoot, brumbershoot, bumblershoot, bumbleshoot, bumpershoot, bumptershoot, and bumshoot. Then there's bumbersol, combining bumbershoot and parasol and its relatives bombersoll, bumbasol, bumbersoll, and bumpersol.  

And finally, from my favorite thesaurus, Chambers, two more umbrella words: brolly and gamp

Stay dry, everyone!


Winter is the Warmest Season

It snowed last night - less than an inch, but we're in for a heap more over the next couple of days. I broke out the thickest, longest, puffiest of my winter jackets this morning when I went out to shovel. It made me think about my favorite winter book, Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer and one of my favorite winter pictures, Great Grandparents Andreas and Maria snug on a sleigh in their cozy chin to toe coats. 

From Chambers Compact Thesaurus, coat:

overcoat, greatcoat, redingote, car-coat, duffel coat, fleece, fur coat, Afghan, blanket, frock-coat, tail-coat, jacket, bomber jacket, dinner-jacket, donkey jacket, hacking-jacket, reefer, pea-jacket, shooting-jacket, safari jacket, Eton jacket, matinee jacket, tuxedo, blazer, raincoat, trench-coat, mackintosh, mac, Burberry, parka, anorak, cagoul, jerkin, blouson, cape, cloak, poncho...

And my favorite: windcheater


stark anomaly

People name babies April, May, June and August (from Latin: grand), but not November. And it’s no wonder. November in a word: stark. If it were a crayon: grey. October’s brilliant yellows dissolve into brown crinkles on the pavement and trees are left shivering black skeletons. But this Iowa afternoon defines anomaly (divergence from what is usual or expected). On my walk: lawns July green, skies September blue. November, you’re nearly name worthy.



From Michelle Edwards comes this excellent word for the day:


and from my favorite dictionary this brief and poetic definition:

to fend off (a blow)

to sidestep (a question) adeptly

Leo and Phoenix, July