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 Puppets (1)


Why Iowa...small towns

Thank you to Monica Leo for sharing her Why Iowa thoughts today from her cultural jewel in West Liberty, Iowa.

Monica is a first generation American, born to German refugees in the waning days of World War Two.  After the war, her parents ordered a set of Kasperle hand puppets from a German craftswoman, and Monica was hooked.  Since 1975, she has been creating and performing as founder and principal puppeteer of  Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre.  Eulenspiegel’s home is Owl Glass Puppetry Center, a tiny center in the small town of West Liberty, Iowa. Monica lives in a log cabin in the woods with her carpenter husband, John Jenks.

When I started touring with the puppets, one of my surprising discoveries was the diversity in this seemingly white bread state.  Living in Iowa City, as I did at that time, I had learned to believe that rural areas (and people) were essentially all cut out of the same cloth.  Was I ever wrong!  Places like Amana and Manning celebrated their German heritage, as reflected in the pace of the school residencies my puppet partner and I did (work hard; take a nice break; too much rushing around has a negative effect on quality).  Columbus Junction was one hundred per cent blonde and blue-eyed the first time we worked there; imagine my surprise when we came back to a school that was fifty per cent Latino!  And Postville!  We watched Postville go from German/Scandinavian to Latino/Central European/Hassidic Jewish! 

In western Iowa, we made friends with Floyd Pearce and reveled in his amazing print shop, located in one-street Cumberland, in which he published exquisite books using antique letterpress technology.  He took us to tiny Mt. Aetna to meet his friend Merrill, an accomplished pianist who’d played in venues all over the United States.  Merrill lived in an ordinary looking ranch style house that revealed itself as a veritable art gallery when we entered.  He’d shared the house for some years with Isadora Duncan’s former private secretary.

We even worked at the Maharishi Elementary School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield.  Having no idea where it was located,  we asked a college student, who hopped into our van and said he’d show us the way.  “What are you doing here?” he asked.  “Puppets.”   A little later he repeated his question.  “Puppets,” I said.  “We’re making puppets with the kids...and doing puppet shows!”  “Oh,” he said, “I thought you were speaking metaphorically.”

I’ve come to believe that Iowa’s soul is most visible in its smallest towns.