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Button Down

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As football fever hits Goodhue, Iowa, Ned Button steps into the lineup in a funny new adventure about a small-town family living in 1929.

Ever since local boy Lester Ward got drafted by the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, Tugs Button’s scrawny cousin Ned can think of nothing but football. Sure, Lester’s younger bully of a brother is determined to keep Ned and his gang from ever getting near a real pickup game. But Ned has a few things going for him: he can catch and sometimes even ...

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Button Down

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As football fever hits Goodhue, Iowa, Ned Button steps into the lineup in a funny new adventure about a small-town family living in 1929.

Ever since local boy Lester Ward got drafted by the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, Tugs Button’s scrawny cousin Ned can think of nothing but football. Sure, Lester’s younger bully of a brother is determined to keep Ned and his gang from ever getting near a real pickup game. But Ned has a few things going for him: he can catch and sometimes even throw, much to his surprise. And he’s got his eccentric grandpa Ike, who may have less get-up-and-go these days, but no shortage of down-home wisdom to pass along-like that being a football star is less about being big and more about playing as a team and honing your strategy, and that having friends and family in your corner is a bigger prize than a lucky football will ever be. From the author of The Luck of the Buttons comes another story about a sometimes hapless, always winning family that scores big points for humor and heart.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Those who were happily immersed in the small-town comedy and drama in Ylvisaker’s Buttons debut will settle right back into the leisurely rhythm of Goodhue, Iowa.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
With its clever double-entendre title, this sequel to the wonderfully charming The Luck of the Buttons, is also set in 1920s Goodhue, Iowa. This title is about Ned Button, a character as hapless and, ultimately, as canny, as his relative Tugs. Ned longs to play football but Burton Ward, who is as bullying as one of the Rowdies, is always stealing his ball. Furthermore, Burton's older brother, Lester, a local football legend, is about to go to the University of Iowa on a scholarship. Lester cavalierly invites Ned to a Hawkeyes game, which Ned longs to attend. None of Ned's dreams, which he imagines carrying out in multiple amusing mishaps, is likely to come true, especially when his football—actually, newspaper wadded around a rock—is squashed by a passing car. Fortunately, Ned's eccentric, decrepit great-grandfather Ike, called Granddaddy, not only recognizes that Ned has a strong throwing arm but he also helps him devise a strategy as he coaches Ned's team in a game against Burton's. The prize is Lester's old football, which Ned covets. In the end, just before he dies, Granddaddy takes Ned to a Hawkeyes game and leaves Lester's football to Ned. Male readers will relish the quirky characters, the relatively gentle but suspenseful pranks, and, especially, Granddaddy's football tactics and wise guidance. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Ned Button has football fever, especially since local boy Lester Ward gets drafted for the Iowa University Hawkeyes. When Ned catches Lester's pass thrown from his departing train, he is thrilled. Just as quickly as it comes, the ball is snatched away by Lester's bully of a brother, Burton. Ned is left empty-handed watching Burton "peacocking" around his friends. Although scrawny for an 11-year-old and no match for Burton's bulk, Ned is determined to get the ball back. And he knows just the person to help him-his Granddaddy Ike. Ned strikes a bargain with Burton to get their teams together and play a game. The winner gets the ball. Ylvisaker has returned to the "down on their luck" Button family she introduced in The Luck of the Buttons (Candlewick, 2011) with the introduction of Ned. She uses the "good old days" charm and innocence as well as common sense and Granddaddy's wisdom to confront the universal issue of bullying. At the same time, the author conveys the importance of a supportive family and loyal friends.D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
Kirkus Reviews
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. When local legend-in-the-making Lester Ward goes off to play football for the University of Iowa, he tosses his old football into an eager pack of boys, and surprise of surprises, it is caught by scrawny Ned Button. But when Lester's younger brother Burton steals the ball away, Ned and his friends are ostracized and reduced to playing with a newspaper-and-twine football on the sidelines. That is, until Granddaddy Ike gets involved. He convinces the group of ragtag youth that football is more about strategy than size, teaching them plays to run against the bigger, tougher boys. And despite a failing heart, Granddaddy arranges to make one of Ned's dreams--attending a game at the University of Iowa--come true. The precise historical setting--tiny Goodhue, Iowa, in 1929--is not central to this story, though it's carefully drawn. It could happen anyplace where bullies do nothing worse than steal footballs and a grandfather's advice and love are enough to make a kid feel like he can take on the world. 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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763664633
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,012,035
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 600L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Ylvisaker is the author of Dear Papa, which Booklist named a Top Ten First Novel for Youth; Little Klein, a Book Sense Children’s Pick and winner of numerous awards, including the Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award; and The Luck of the Buttons, an Indie Next List Selection. About Button Down, the second book to feature the Button family, she says, “When Ned confessed, in The Luck of the Buttons, that he couldn’t catch a football but still liked to play, I recognized a piece of my childhood. In my neighborhood, we played countless games of baseball in the alley, soccer on the median, and football in front yards. While I couldn’t hit, throw, catch, or kick, I loved those seconds of suspense after a ball was launched and victory was yet possible. For me, it never was, but what about Ned? I put a ball in the air and Ned on the field and wrote to find out what happened.” Formerly of Iowa and Minnesota, Anne Ylvisaker now lives in California with her family.
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