Reviews for Luck of the Buttons

Booklist Reviews 2011 April #2
The Button family is not comprised of winners, and luck has forgotten where they live. Set in small-town America in 1929, this compact book introduces Tugs Button, who accepts this common wisdom. But when she is lucky enough to be the same height as rich-girl Aggie, they win the three-legged race at the Independence Day picnic. Tugs' hard work at the camera store impresses the owner; he gives her a raffle ticket for the Brownie camera drawing, and she wins it, too. The camera opens up a whole new world for Tugs, who is able to see things more clearly through its lens. Ylvisaker's lively writing style and appealing characters will charm readers. Slightly less successful is a subplot in which Tugs spots a con man (reminiscent of The Music Man's Professor Henry Hill), who gets the townsfolk to invest in his newspaper. Without much tension, it's just kids being smarter than adults. But those who like Jennifer L. Holm's Turtle in Paradise and Clare Vanderpool's Moon over Manifest (both 2010) will appreciate this. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Twelve-year-old Tugs Button thinks there's something fishy about the new fellow in town. She follows up on her hunch, braves adult skepticism, and delivers the miscreant to the authorities. Beneath this plot scaffolding is a subtle story of a clever child outgrowing her family. Set in the small-town Midwest of 1929, the tale features strongly realized characters and delicate, original writing. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #2
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 clichŽ 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 Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 March #2
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) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 February #3

Ylvisaker sets her agreeable story of the summer of 1929, when life begins to change for ungainly 12-year-old Tugs Button, in the small town of Goodhue, Iowa. Born into a downtrodden family that "considered victory, even for one's affiliated party in national politics, showing off," good-natured, plainspoken Tugs is accustomed to being called names like "rapscallion" and "know-it-all." But when wealthy Aggie Millhouse asks to run the three-legged race with her at the Independence Day picnic and they win, Tugs begins to question whether she might be able to break out of the Buttons' tradition of bad luck. After she also wins the patriotic essay contest and a Kodak camera, she declares, "I'm going to go on being lucky," to the horrified Button clan. As Ylvisaker builds an increasingly suspenseful tale revolving around a dapper, silver-tongued newcomer with plans for starting a newspaper with citizens' money (think The Music Man), she presents a multitude of somewhat stereotypical characters who can be hard to keep track of, but succeeds in her portrayal of a cozy, close-knit community. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 April

Gr 4-6--Twelve-year-old Tugs Button, so named when her mother misread an inspiring gravestone, is having a run of Independence Day luck: she has won the three-legged race with a new friend, a blue ribbon for her entry in the patriotic essay contest, and the raffle for a Kodak Brownie camera. But Tugs is uneasy about the arrival of Harvey Moore in her small Iowa town. He's a smooth-talking stranger who's promising to reestablish a local newspaper, the Goodhue Progress, as soon as he can raise enough money for a printing press. He has beguiled the gullible Goodhue citizens, but Tugs suspects that he is about to swindle them out of their savings. When her budding friendship with elderly twin sisters leads her to the town library archives, she discovers a photo of Harvey Moore, aka Dapper Jack, on the front page of a Chicago newspaper. Now she has to convince the powers that be to stop him before he absconds with the loot. Set in 1929, with a plot, setting, and characters reminiscent of Meredith Wilson's The Music Man, this novel overcomes stock characterization, a predictable plot, and some overused motifs by means of subtle humor, a clever narrative style, and an endearing heroine. Details of photography of the time period add interest, and readers who enjoy a good story with only the mildest of sinister overtones will find this one appealing.--Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

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