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 photograph (3)


Enter the Leopold

This is my great-grandmother's cat, so docile on her lap. She's knitting and he's not even chasing the yarn. But I have a cat that looks remarkably like this one and my cat can act demure and innocent one moment, then get into mischief as soon as I turn my back.

So it is with The Luck of the Buttons's Leopold, who belongs to the elderly Thompson sisters but, unbeknownst to them, finds adventures all over town. 

Leopold outsized most raccoons. His belly hung so low he collected all manner of leaves and ground scraps, which he then left on the library carpet every time someone let his shaggy self through the door. You could always tell where Leopold had been when you went into the library, as there was a trail of leaves and grass marking his path, like Hansel and Gretel's crumbs. Usually he went to the children's area, because he got lots of attention there until somebody's mother shooed him out. Then he went scurrying in a straight line for the door, mewing as if maimed. 

How a cat that fat had gotten himself up in the apple tree Tugs couldn't imagine. But sure enough, there he was, the tiny sisters carrying on beneath the tree.


The Plot Thickens

This is another family photo that has fascinated me for years. Most of the pictures we have from that era are posed, taken for an occasion. So, like the porch picture I wrote about yesterday, I've long wondered who had a camera on this trip. Where is this group going and where have they been? How long have they been stranded? 

Again, I imagined Tugs looking through the lens. I imagined that the man was a stranger who'd chanced along. What was his business, appearing on a country road out of nowhere?

Meet Harvey Moore, a slick and optimistic newsman on his way to deliver progress to Goodhue, Iowa. He's come to help, so why is Tugs wary?


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.