Review Blog

Nov 25 2011

The luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker

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Candlewick Press, 2011. ISBN 9780763650667.
(Ages 8-12) Recommended. Set in a small town in Iowa in 1929, twelve-year-old Tugs Button has always just accepted her lot in life, being part of a family which seems quite proud of its misfortunes. But then popular and coordinated Aggie Millhouse asks her not only to be her partner in the Independence Day picnic three-legged race, but also invites her to her birthday party. Tugs wonders if perhaps you have to make your own luck, and after winning two blue ribbons and a camera at the picnic, begins to have more confidence to do so. When a stranger arrives in town claiming to be a newspaperman and taking money from many of the townsfolk, Tugs is the only person who seems to think his story does not add up. But will anybody listen to her? After all, she's just a scruffy Button in an old pair of overalls.
Tugs is a very likeable character who finds out much about herself by examining how her family and the rest of the town views her. While some of the language and the historical American small-town setting may leave younger readers a little bewildered, the characters and mystery of the story will appeal to many upper primary students, especially those who sometimes feel trapped by their own circumstances.
Donella Reed

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