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
Powered by Squarespace

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:


Check out IndieBound

The Luck of the Buttons is featured on the

Spring 2011 Kids' Indie Next List!

See Tugs in the Chicago Tribune

Book talk:

"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