Books by Anne Ylvisaker

Released: Nov. 1, 2014

"Although the story is slow in places, the characters charm, and the material is enhanced by the author's well-realized rendition of time and place. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)"
Like almost all the menfolk in the town of Keokuk, Ike is initially thrilled when Iowa, a free state, is called up by President Abraham Lincoln to fight in the Civil War, but his happiness turns to horror when he realizes that he's too young for combat and must stay behind with the women. Read full book review >
BUTTON DOWN by Anne Ylvisaker
Released: Sept. 11, 2012

"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. (Historical fiction. 8-11)"
Ylvisaker (The Luck of the Buttons, 2011) returns to the lovably unlucky Button family, this time with a gentle story about 11-year-old Ned and his love of football. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2011

Set in Iowa in 1929, this offbeat tale features plucky, twelve-year-old Tugs Button, who has a meaningful relationship with pie. The Button clan bakes and serves it up whenever there is trouble in the ranks, from accidents to crop failures to illnesses to spousal friction. Poor Tugs has eaten a lot of pie in her life. It seems the Buttons just don't have any luck. And judging by her buck teeth and her clumsiness, social and otherwise, Tugs is most definitely a Button. Not surprisingly, everyone—not least of all Tugs herself—is fit to be tied when she wins two blue ribbons and a Brownie camera at the town's Independence Day celebration. And they are further stunned by the mystery she solves with her camera, some good instincts and a little luck. A bit slow-going at first, but if readers persevere, they will warm up to Tugs and enjoy getting to know the people in her circle, including her unlikely, primly-dressed friend Aggie Millhouse, her Granddaddy Ike who gambles his false teeth away and back again, and twins Elmira and Eldora, photograph fanatics and owners of Leopold, a cat as big as a raccoon, who frequents the local library. The main message here is uncomplicated, but important—with a little faith in ourselves and a willingness to take some risks, anything is possible, even a lucky Button. (Historical fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
LITTLE KLEIN by Anne Ylvisaker
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

Little Klein, aka Harold, is definitely the runt of the litter. He has three rather large older brothers known as the Bigs, who, though barely civilized, are totally protective of him. Little at seven is as small as a four-year-old and has a tiny voice that usually goes unheard. He learns to whistle and is so effective that he can call dogs from near and far, attracting a stray that becomes his constant companion. Through adventures and misadventures, Little and his brothers are brought closer together and achieve a measure of maturity. Little is able to assert himself and earns the respect of all. Ylvisaker has crafted a lovely coming-of-age tale filled with humor and pathos and several unexpected twists. The characters are quirky, eccentric and lovable. She employs a rather odd syntax that charms the ear and begs to be read aloud. Instead of a typical boy-and-his-dog story, the author has created something unique and memorable. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
DEAR PAPA by Anne Ylvisaker
Released: Aug. 1, 2002

Nine-year-old Isabelle's first letter to her Papa in September 1943, a year after his death from an allergic reaction (the war-time setting is largely background), is the beginning of an epistolary journal that spans the rest of her Minnesota childhood. Her letters to Papa, unread by anyone else (except for the first, which Isabelle mails to her namesake aunt), are interspersed with her letters to other, living, characters: Aunt Izzy, Mama, and Isabelle's siblings and friends. Isabelle, the middle child of five, is determined, practical, and lonely amid the changes her father's death has wrought. She schemes to reunite her family when she and her older sisters are sent to live with relatives. She is outraged when her mother becomes a live-in housekeeper to, and then marries, a Catholic. But she gradually warms to her stepfather and to her new life. As that takes on stability and happiness, her letters to her Papa taper off and a final letter from Isabelle as a young woman, now earning a living as a writer, closes the story. Ylvisaker's narrative voice falters a few times in her debut with the challenge of sustaining a truly childlike style for the second-person address. On December 7, observing the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Isabelle reminds Papa of his "prayers" upon hearing the news in 1941, and tells him, "I will pray just like you did: Christ Almighty! God, damn them all to hell. Holy Jesus, preserve us." A nudge and a wink to adult readers steal in along with the earnest assertion. Yet Isabelle's resolute nature does produce a few flashes of warmth and gentle humor. Ylvisaker gives us a look at life at home during the war years, sketching in the big events, letting Isabelle's details of daily life show just enough of wartime economies and worries. Uneven, but overall refreshingly free of bathos. (Fiction. 8-11)Read full book review >