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The Luck of the Buttons Hardcover – April 12, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Buttons Series

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Editorial Reviews


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. ...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. --The Horn Book, April/May 2011 (portion of review)

About the Author

Anne Ylvisaker is the author of Dear Papa, which Booklist named a Top Ten Youth First Novel, and Little Klein, a Book Sense Pick and winner of numerous awards. Formerly of Iowa and Minnesota, Anne Ylvisaker now lives in California.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press; 1 edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780763650667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763650667
  • ASIN: 0763650668
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,078,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The Luck of the Buttons" is about a young girl named Tugs Button who is in a very unlucky family. She is determined to turn that luck around. When it looks like she might be lucky after all, no one knows if their luck is turning or if she is the only lucky one in her family. Then an opportunity appears to the people of the town and everyone is very excited. But Tugs has some questions, and so she looks for answers.

Other kids will enjoy this book because it’s thrilling and makes you want to keep turning the pages. My favorite part was when everyone finally began to believe that Tugs was actually lucky and not just another Button. It was sad when it was over even though all of her questions do get answered because you realize that you will miss the character and want to know what she will do next.

Because it takes place in the 1920s, some of the language takes some getting used to. For example, you have to get used to names of items and stores that we don’t really have anymore. It was slow paced at the beginning but it gets faster as you get deeper into the book and by then you won’t want to put it down. But overall this story is special because it says that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything.

I give this book 5 Stars because it was a thrilling page-turner with a surprise ending.

Review by Young Mensan Audrey D., age 10
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tugs makes for a delightful heroine. Not only is feisty and impulsive, but she is also observant and well-intentioned. Tugs is a character well worth rooting for as she tries to convince her family that one's luck can be altered with effort rather than submitted to reluctantly. Other characters are also easy to relate to. The one I related to the best was, unsurprisingly, Miss Lucy, the librarian, who sees the potential in Tugs, rather than the clumsy tom-boy.

The plot starts off with a bang:

"Tugs Button darted past Zip's Hardware, stumbled over the lunch specials sign at Al and Irene's Luncheonette, and pushed through the door of Ward's Ben Franklin as if the devil himself were chasing her."

Tugs deals with the sorts of things you would expect in a small town of the 1920s, friends, family, expectations, and luck. Can Tugs change the so-called Button Luck? Of course she can, but not without the help of an encouraging librarian, a new friend, and the Thompson Twins (my favorite characters outside of Tugs herself). When Tugs realizes that the town is being conned out of their hard-earned money, she realizes she must do something, Button luck or not. The Luck of the Buttons is a delightful tale of family, friends, and determination.

One of the things that makes a book stand out for me is the strength of the setting. Real or imaginary the setting must be believable with just the right amount of detail. Enough detail that the place can be visualized, while still leaving plenty of room for the reader to make the place his/her own. Ylvisaker does this very well. She integrates her descriptions so well into the story that I didn't really pay attention to how well she did it. Yet, I finished the book feeling that I knew well the small town in Iowa in which the story takes place.

Overall, I think this is a book well worth reading and discussing, simply an enjoyable story however one looks at it. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Tugs Button is twelve years old and the first member of the Button family to show any signs of being lucky. It's 1929 and in the small town of Goodhue, Iowa, the Buttons are known for being unlucky, and are generally looked upon with scorn. Tugs is different from both the rest of her family and the other girls in town. She's totally her own person, whether she's getting into trouble, or going to the library every day to look up a new word. It's the strength of her character and narrative voice that makes this book truly a five star read.

The author sets the period beautifully. After reading one chapter, I truly felt I was there meeting all these quirky townspeople, and watching wise Tugs figure out not only the town mystery, but also learn that she has quite a bit more to offer than your average Button. This is a fast little read that still manages to travel at an easy going pace. The dialogue is spot on, the characters are wonderful, and even though the story is kind of predictable, it was very well done, and told in such a way that kept me turning the pages without hesitation. Anyone looking for an old fashioned story about a simpler time will find a good one here. Kids will read it and learn that even though the time period is different, kids have always wanted to fit in with the in crowd, and that being yourself is usually the best way to do it. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Easy to read and just a fun book for those who don't like to read. So far, I have had two children read this book and both have enjoyed the story. One who hates to read and has read it twice now and another child who is reading it currently loves it too. I bought it on audible to listen to and personally thought it was a fun book for children. We are waiting for Anne Yivisaker's second book Buttons Down.

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Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: The time period attracted me.

Set in 1929, small town Iowa, tomboy Tugs Button belongs to the Buttons clan, a family who just naturally expects bad luck and misfortune to come their way, if any luck is to be handed out it won't be handed to any of them because it's rigged, don't ya know. Besides the Buttons enjoy their yearly family reunions where they get together to grumble, complain and go over the good ole' stories of family misfortunes. But Tugs has had enough and has decided she's not going to be unlucky, in fact she openly invites luck to come her way and her family looks at her as if she'd just "declared herself Swedish". As Tugs sets off around town with this new attitude about life she makes a new unlikely friend and when the stranger comes to town Tugs is the one who wonders what he's really up to.

A fun, easy read. This little book is most suitable for the 8 to 10 age range and gives a good look at everyday life for a poor family just before the depression. The story examines both friendship and bullies, how randomly friendship can happen and how a bully can be deflated in the end. The added mystery makes this more than just a slice of life story and while I, an adult, figured out what was up very early on, the story and Tugs' attempts at private investigation should keep young readers entertained. Altogether a quiet, wholesome read.
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