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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Entries in family (2)



Last week I wrote about my decision to set The Luck of the Buttons in Iowa. It got me thinking about the notion of place and what qualities people value in their home states. Several Iowans have shared their thoughts, with a few more to come, including today's guest writer, Katie Mills Giorgio. Look for other states to be represented soon, including the reflections of school children in Hawaii. 

Katie Mills Giorgio is a freelance writer living, working and raising a family in her hometown of Cedar Rapids. She writes for dozens of newspapers, magazines and websites (and even sometimes just for fun!) and hopes to someday make the leap into the world of children’s literature. You can read more about her writing life at

I am proud to say I was born in the great state of Iowa (my birthday is actually the same date Iowa officially became a state way back in 1846!) But growing up, we moved around a lot so I'm not a lifelong resident of the state.

It's interesting though when I look back on all of our moves that Iowa remains a constant. We moved to Illinois but Iowa pulled us back. Then we went all the way down south to Georgia...again Iowa pulled us back. I tried Illinois again after college, only to be pulled back to Iowa.

Admittedly, the last move back to Iowa (now more than seven years ago) was my own choice. I was about to start my own family and have always known I wanted to raise my kids in my hometown of Cedar Rapids.

I've loved something about all the places I've lived. But Iowa—Cedar Rapids, in fact—means the most. It means family and fun because we are lucky enough to be surrounded by relatives. It means having a big backyard to run and play in. It means living in a city with a downtown we love to frequent. But it also means we are close to wide open spaces. We pick strawberries in the summer, apples in the fall and go chop down our own Christmas tree. And my son wouldn’t let me forget that Iowa means some pretty delicious sweet corn.

So maybe all of those years I wasn't just being pulled back. Iowa was simply calling me home.


Meet the Buttons

A framed enlargement of this picture has hung on a wall in each of my last three houses. It is a family photograph with my grandmother's handwriting on the back: 1927 House north of town. My grandma is the one standing next to the door. Her in-laws are seated on the edge of the porch, holding my Aunt Sylvia.

Who's house is this, north of town? Why is the window broken? Why are the chickens running around? There is another picture taken just a moment before or after, without the chickens. I could find the answers to these questions easily, but because wondering about it is half the fun, I haven't asked. 

Most of all, I've wondered, why was the picture taken at all, and who is behind the camera? As a writing exercise I tried starting a story with this scene. I wrote as if this weren't my family at all, but some strangers I was encountering for the first time. After a few flat starts, Tugs Button (see yesterday's post) popped into my head as a spunky twelve-year-old girl with a new camera. This is my family, she seemed to say. Let me tell you about them

When something went wrong in the Button family, they shrugged, they sighed, they shook their heads. “Just our luck,” the Buttons said. 

Tell me more, I said to Tugs. And she did.