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 prairie (2)


Why Iowa...serendipity

WHY IOWA continues as I hear from more artists and writers who share what it means to live, work, and play in Iowa. If you have thoughts or images on this subject, email me here. Not an Iowan? What is it about your state that sets it apart? Why (insert your state here)? Look for a photo gallery coming soon, and knitters, don't forget to read this and submit your entry to win Michelle Edwards's A Knitter's Home Companion. 

I was introduced to author and artist Claudia McGehee over a bowl of soup at Devotay in Iowa City on the coldest, snowiest of Iowa days. The author and illustrator of  A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet and Where Do Birds Live? among other wonderful books and works of art celebrating the natural world, Claudia turned our conversation to dreams of spring and the transformation that would occur in Iowa. A picnic was planned for May, in a cemetery that is home to a tall grass prairie; the picnic where I would meet Tugs Button. Serendipity! Enjoy Claudia's thoughts on Iowa and serendipity. 

Prairie Sunset, scratchboard and watercolor by Claudia McGehee

I made several moves as a young adult before my husband and I finally planted in Iowa nearly 20 years ago. Introducing myself to every new home, I followed the old adage “To know the land is to know the people”.  Maybe this stems from my former occupation of archaeologist, where geography literally does inform on past populations and individuals. But there’s also a spiritual, romantic component to looking at the land and wondering about those who’ve been here before me.

Just before we moved out to Iowa from Washington state, my dad reminded me that a few of my ancestors had lived in Iowa in the 1800’s.  A few continued on to Oregon and Washington (my great-grandparents met on a westward bound wagon train on the Oregon Trail!), but some stayed on in Little Sioux, Iowa (close to the Nebraska border).  A couple summers ago, we found these pioneering family members in a little cemetery nestled at the bottom on the Loess Hills. It was strange to think that I wasn’t the first in my clan to stand in the tallgrass prairies that I had grown to love so. I realized that for me, to know this land, Iowa, is to also know my family. And to also know myself.



Why Iowa...prairies

I had a chance meeting with Iowa author Jacqueline Briggs Martin just before I moved to Iowa from Minnesota. Call me when you arrive, Jackie said, and I'll show you around. She was as good as her word and our friendship grew over picnics and walks by creeks and through prairies.

Jackie is the award winning author of nineteen books for children including her latest, The Chiru of High Tibet, which was chosen as a Junior Literary Guild selection for January 2011 and has been named an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12. Read about Jackie's journey to Tibet here.

Why Iowa, Jackie?

Prairie is one reason why. Most of our prairie has been lost to the plow, but there are remnants, wonderful remnants, including the Rochester Cemetery, where Mother Button is inspired by a gravestone to give her unborn child the name “Tugs Button.”

This little patch, where the soil has never been turned,  really does almost buzz with wildflowers in the spring of each year—shooting stars,  columbine, Solomon’s Seal, trillium, even yellow ladies’ slippers on a hidden hillside.

Looking at these flowers you’d think they were the “action” on a prairie. But the real action is underground where the roots and rhizomes go down almost as far as the plants go up,  making a dense mat of plant support. That’s why the plants could survive those roaring prairie fires that took down oak trees and sent bison running for their lives. Those roots just lay low and waited, and the next spring sent up another round of green.

We can make a prairie in a few years. Plant the forbs (flowering plants) and grasses, pull the weeds, do an occasional burn.  Soon we’ll see flowers. But it takes a hundred years to restore the roots and rhizomes.

Many in Iowa still love these flowers, gifts of time and climate, and are working to restore prairie plants to our roadsides and small pockets of vacant land. 

Writers need a place to go to wander, to take in, to add to “the well” from which they draw. A walk in one of Iowa’s  prairies does that for me.