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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My Writing Process Blog Tour

I am thrilled to be participating in the My Writing Process Blog Tour, which has been touring the world for many months, through many genres. Lauren Stringer, author and illustrator of many beautiful picture books, passed the baton to me. Please check out her post here. I’ll answer the tour’s four questions today, then tag two authors to share next week.

1. What am I working on?

I am getting ready for the November release of THE CURSE OF THE BUTTONS, my final book about the comically unlucky Button family. I reeled in generations of this fictional family to discover what put the Buttons on their path of misfortune and uncovered Great Granddaddy Ike’s boyhood story, set during the first summer of the Civil War.

I’m also writing my way into a new story. It’s still in a shy stage, so more on that another time.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

William Stafford has a wonderful essay about how historical events were once experienced by individuals as current events. As I write about an event in the past, I experience it through fictional individuals as if it was a current event. I hope that sense of immediacy comes through in my novels.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write because I wonder about us in all our humanness. I wonder about choices we make, relationships we have, how we resolve difficult emotions, why and how we interact in community. I was fortunate to have had a childhood that was particularly rich in intergenerational community, so that is a theme common to my books.

4. How does your writing process work?

As I begin a novel, I sort collections of images, posting on my wall anything that catches my eye, for color, for subject, for a feeling it stirs up in me. I especially like historic photographs for which I don’t have the background story, allowing scope for my imagination.

Once I have a collection of images, I start over and over and over again, writing the first things that pop into my head. At the same time, I follow tidbits of research about whatever era my noodlings lead me to. Then, once I have a spark of a story, I write to find out what happens next. Every day starts with “I wonder…”

Look for answers about the writing process from these authors next week:

Michelle Edwards is the author and illustrator of many books for children, one book for adults, and nearly one hundred essays and cards for knitters. Her titles include: CHICKEN MAN (winner of the National Jewish Book Award) and A KNITTER’S HOME COMPANION (an illustrated collection of stories, patterns and recipes). Michelle grew up in Troy, New York and now lives in Iowa City, Iowa, where she shares, with her husband, a house full of books, yarn, and the artifacts of their three daughter's childhoods.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin has published 16 books for children. Her picture book biography of a self taught scientist–SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, illustrated by Mary Azarian, (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), was awarded the 1999 Caldecott medal by the American Library Association. THE LAMP, THE ICE, AND THE BOAT CALLED FISH, Houghton Mifflin, 2001) was named an ALA Notable Book. ON SAND ISLAND (Houghton Mifflin, 2003) was named to Publishers Weekly’s “Best Books of the Year” list.  Her most recent book FARMER WILL ALLEN AND THE GROWING TABLE (Readers to Eaters Press, 2013) was named a Notable Book by the ALA.  This fall Readers to Eaters will publish a picture book biography of Alice Waters—ALICE WATERS AND THE TRIP TO DELICIOUS.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin and her husband Richard live in Mount Vernon, Iowa.


The Curse of the Buttons

Advance reading copies have arrived! The Curse of the Buttons is set for fall release. I've just reread Ike's story cover to beautiful cover and can't wait for you to read it, too.

Ike is a granddaddy in The Luck of the Buttons and Button Down. But he was a boy once, and this is his tale of adventure. Here's a teaser:

"Eleven is not too young for war," Ike said to Barfoot, who swished his tail agreeably, then lumbered to the yard table and stuck his nose in an unattended pie.

When Iowa is called up to represent the Union of the United States of America, Ike is beside himself with excitement. But he's left behind with Mother and the aunts and girl cousins while the Button men march forth toward glory. Ike fears his fate is sealed unless he can call on the ingenuity of his fabled (some say cursed) Uncle Palmer, disguise himself as a drummer boy, and meet up with the Iowa First. But some opportunities are meant to be missed. And some arrive when you least expect them. 


Can the fox say Ylvisaker?

November Desktop Calendar Mr. Fox from the talented Caroline Johansson

An email landed in my box this morning: Warner Music executives announce that I've hit the top ten on the music charts in Ireland! Hurray! Oh, wait. This is an email gone astray. It's for Ylvisaker brothers Bard and Vegard, known as Ylvis. Their hit, The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?), is charming the world. 

Congratulations, Ylvis! May your fame help the world learn to pronounce our name.

This is not the first time I've received email intended for another Ylvisaker. Nine years ago today, because of a typo, I received a misdirected business email. I responded, letting the sender know that someone was going to miss a meeting. That sender and I are now married. 

I can't wait to see who shows up next. 



Just Arrived!

At my house, the harmony of a doorbell ding, three sharp raps on the door, running footfalls, and the deep rumble of a heavy truck, herald the arrival of a package. That glorious symphony played just now, and here's what I found on the front porch:


Button Down, in paperback, including a sneak peek at the final Button book, The Curse of the Buttons, set for 2014 release! 

Thank you, Candlewick Press, and distributor Random House!


Sketch Lessons

Edward Hopper: Studies for Nighthawks

It's the persistence that makes the understanding happen.

I have an amazing instructor for my sketch class this summer. It’s clear that Ms. Thorson feels about drawing what I feel about writing – that it is a skill that can be learned by everyone and that it enriches the way we experience the world.

I’ve had a major aha moment in every single class. Exhilarating. Using this other part of my brain is revving up my creative energy. And what I’m learning about drawing is having a direct impact on my writing. I’m in the drafting stage of several new writing ideas, a stage that is much like sketching.

Here is a selection of the many wise words of my instructor that can be directly applied to the writing process.

Sketching is a process, a practice, and a way of understanding what you see.

Tonight we’ll inhabit the sense of experience.

…there’s interest in how life happens around us.

You’re building a set of steps to a new understanding.

A lot of the creative process is finding solutions. Find a solution to this small problem and then something happens.

We are cultivating stamina and focus.

Be more conscious of what you know and use it.

And my favorite quote, worth repeating, one I’ve applied to my writing each and every day:

It’s the persistence that makes the understanding happen.