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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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.


Beginner's Luck


While writing a novel, I often tinker with ideas and resolve plot hiccups by attempting to sketch them out on paper. I lack the skills, though, to translate what's in my head onto the page. 

So my pencils are sharpened, my school bag is packed. I start Sketch 1 tonight at our local community college. I am a beginner and I can’t wait.

When I was a classroom teacher, one of my favorite parts of the job was introducing a new skill, anything from long division to cursive writing. A buzz would go through the room as students played with the new idea, talked amongst themselves, tried it out, stumbled, and tried again. Then there’d be a ripple of excitement as one by one, they earned success.

Because even the smallest step is one not taken before, beginners are infused with the thrill of success. Lucky beginners. Lucky me. 


I've been tagged...

There's a global blog tour galloping around the web. The Next Big Thing is a virtual game of blog tag in which authors and illustrators are sharing their latest or forthcoming work by answering the same ten questions. I've been tagged by these amazing authors who have already played:

Siobhan Fallon

and Lauren Stringer

Check out their blogs and new books, then keep reading for my interview and the authors I'm tagging next. 

1. What is the title of your latest book?

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? I found a postcard of the Grant Wood painting Plaid Sweater as I started writing The Luck of the Buttons, the first Button book. The boy in that painting was a story begging to be told. He became a model for the character of Ned. I thought of him as the boy Ned imagined himself to be, not who he actually was, football and all. After Ned was done playing a supporting role to Tugs in The Luck of the Buttons, I was eager to put him on the field and see if he could find the hero in himself.

3. What genre does your book fall under? Button Down is middle grade fiction, which means primarily readers between the ages of 8 and 12. 

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Absolutely Nolan Gould for Ned. He plays Luke Dunphee on Modern Family. I love his comic timing. I’d put a bushy mustache on Dustin Hoffman for Granddaddy Ike and cast Robert Duvall as Granddaddy’s best friend Mr. Jackson. 

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Ned, of the comically unlucky Button family, hasn't caught a thing in his life until he faces bully Burton Ward in a challenge to catch their town hero's football.

6. Who published your book? The marvelous Candlewick Press

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? It took about nine months to form a complete draft from beginning to end, though in my files, that was draft version 38. 

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Richard Peck’s novels A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder are humorous intergenerational stories set in a small midwestern town during the 1930s. 

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? One of the main themes of Button Down is the relationship between Ned and Granddaddy Ike. My grandparents lived nearby when I was growing up and were very involved in our lives. Writing this book allowed me to explore all the ways in which they influenced my childhood self. 

10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? Football! While I'd played pick up football as a kid, and lots of a little hand-held electronic football game of my brother's, it wasn't until I wrote this book that I really took the time to understand the strategy behind the game. It's a lot more than a simple knock-em-down sport and I had a great time writing the football scenes.


Michelle Edwards will be posting tomorrow, February 14. 

A little boy frets that the spare room where his baby sister or brother will sleep will never be emptied of things his mother has collected from neighbors for years, but she uses those things to sew and knit everything from diapers to Hanukkah gifts.

Rebecca Janni will post February 20. 

Nellie Sue is taking her cowgirl flair to the county fair! There are rides and contests and a bicycle rodeo, too. Nellie Sue wants to win that blue ribbon. But can she do it while still being "fair at the fair"?

Thanks for joining this reading rodeo! 



Swoop and Peek

I don't usually work outdoors, especially when I'm deep into a rewrite, as I am now on the third Button book. But it's January, I'm just back from Iowa, and while much of the nation is in a deep freeze, it hit 75 degrees in Monterey. I felt a responsibility to appreciate the day fully. Thought I could pull up a quiet spot of beach and write undisturbed. But there are critics everywhere. 


She gave me her opinion in no uncertain terms. I'll work at home from now on.  


Iowa Events

I'm thrlled to be sharing Button Down with Hawkeye fans in Iowa this weekend. Please join me at the One Book Two Book Festival in Iowa City on Saturday, January 12. I'm on the program at 1:30, and there are authors and activities all day long. On Sunday, I'll be reading and signing at New Bo Books, 4:00. Hope to see you there! 

Can you see why New Bo is one of my favorite book shops?

(photo from the blog of author Andrew Shaffer of the incredible window design by my friend Kate Ford)