The Curse of the Buttons
“Eleven is not too young for war,” Ike said to Barfoot, who swished his tail agreeably, then lumbered to the yard table and stuck his nose in an unattended pie.
When a steamboat arrives heralding the news that Iowa has been called up to represent the Union of the United States of America, Ike is beside himself with excitement. For months, the promise of war has enveloped small-town Keokuk like a grand game that everyone’s in on — everyone but Ike, his swaybacked pony, and his best friend and checkers partner, Albirdie. Left behind with Mother and the aunts and girl cousins while the Button men march forth toward glory, Ike’s fate is sealed. Unless he can call on the ingenuity of his fabled (some say cursed) ancestor — the adventuresome Uncle Palmer — seek passage to Missouri disguised as a drummer boy, and meet up with the Iowa First. But some opportunities are meant to be missed. And some arrive when you least expect them.
The Curse of the Buttons is the third installment in the delightful Button family saga, though readers do not need to have read the other books to enjoy this one. Anne Ylvisaker wastes no words; her narrative is charming in its simplicity and entrances the reader by fully immersing them in the time and place. Even as the Button family faces challenges, they prevail with kindness and spirit. -BookPage
Ylvisaker's writing is clear and engaging...Readers will find a lot to relate to and cheer for in Ike, who merely wants to live up to his uncle's legacy of adventurous deeds...a fast-paced story. -School Library Journal
Pictures tell the Story
This old family photo got me started thinking about the the character of Barfoot.
I could imagine Ike's father and uncles in this old photo.
Here are a few views of historic Keokuk:
And how it looks today:
Ike and Albirdie played checkers on a mat that rolled up. It might have looked like this:
And Albirdie's compass would have looked like one of these:
Money was not uniform throughout the country. Here are some Keokuk dollars:
History is full of stories. My fiction is inspired by objects and photos I see in history museums. Visit your local history museum and see what stories you find!