The Luck of the Buttons
It's the summer of being twelve and Goodhue's Independence Day picnic is coming up with its races and raffles and contests. But Tugs Button is from an unlucky family. Not only are the Buttons prone to misfortune, they like it that way. Buttons keep their expectations low and avoid situations that could lead to getting a swell head. What's a girl to do when opportunity, in the person of the swift and coordinated Aggie Millhouse, knocks on her screen door?
Click to learn more:
- Where did the name Tugs Button come from?
- What was the inspiration for the story?
- What is a Brownie camera?
- Is there a real Leopold the cat?
- Who was the inspiration for Lucy the Librarian?
- A peek at Harvey Moore
- What is a player piano?
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See Tugs in the Chicago Tribune
"A svelte little novel that’s chock full of plum, pluck, and vinegar, Ylvisaker gives us a heroine you can believe in but never pity. And the readability? Through the roof, man. Through the roof...
Really, it’s Ylvisaker’s writing that keeps everything moving at a rapid clip. It’s catchy with a beat you can dance to, but there’s also an essential friendliness beneath it all. You like Tugs right from the start, even if she does talk too fast when she’s nervous and wipe the snotty back of her hand on her overalls. She’s the kind of kid you identify with. The one who pays attention to things that should not be and has to escape the weight of her family’s history.
Basically if you’re looking for pleasure reading that’s also historical, I can’t think of a better book to name than The Luck of the Buttons. Fun and funny, light but with a real emotional core, Ylvisaker’s a consistently strong writer that’s slowly building a following." Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal, Fuse 8 Review of the Day
"The Luck of the Buttons is a marvelous romp through the town of Goodhue, Iowa, in 1929, led by a plucky heroine named Tugs Esther Button. The Button family has long been known for their bad luck, but Tugs is determined to break that losing streak.
This is a fun, exciting story that readers will tear through...a fast-paced novel about a slower, but endlessly fascinating era. Tugs may be "old fashioned," but she's got a modern sensibility, and through her own intelligence and determination, this young woman finds herself and turns her luck around." Alice Carey, BookPage
"Tugs is nothing but good luck for young readers, and they’ll appreciate her role in this perceptive exploration of identity." Kate Quealy-Gainer, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.
"In the fine tradition of the kid who catches the crook, twelve-year-old Tugs Button figures out very quickly that there is something fishy about the new fellow in town. This newcomer talks a good line about starting a newspaper and is adept at persuading people out of their money, but his story doesn’t add up. Tugs follows up on her hunch, does research, braves the skepticism of adults (including the mayor), and delivers the miscreant to the authorities on a platter. Beneath this plot scaffolding is a subtle story of a clever child who finds herself simply outgrowing her family. Set in the small-town Midwest of 1929, the tale has a whiff of nostalgia (the Brownie box camera, “dagnabit”), but the good old days are balanced by the strongly realized, immediate characters and the delicacy and originality of the writing. Ylvisaker plays against cliché on several fronts. The Button family, for example, is hapless and eccentric, but they are not cartoons, and the polished girl from the right side of the tracks turns out to be not only smart but imaginatively kind and a true-blue friend to Tugs." Sarah Ellis, Hornbook
"Tugs’ fascination with the newly developing field of photography will be of special interest to those who share her passion. The author’s love of language will keep you eagerly anticipating the next turn of phrase. Her keen observations of human nature suffuse The Luck of the Buttons with a tender, funny, and charming ambience that wraps the reader inside a place and time with characters among whom we’d all like to live." Vicki Palmquist, Children's Literature Network