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The Curse of the Buttons

Overview

Fans of the hapless Button family will thrill to this Civil War prequel, featuring the inimitable "Granddaddy Ike" as a boy.

"Eleven is not too young for war," Ike said to Barfoot, who swished his tail agreeably, then lumbered to the yard table and stuck his nose in an unattended pie.
When a steamboat arrives heralding the news that Iowa has been called up to represent the Union of the United States of America, Ike is beside himself with excitement. For months, the promise of ...

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The Curse of the Buttons

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Overview

Fans of the hapless Button family will thrill to this Civil War prequel, featuring the inimitable "Granddaddy Ike" as a boy.

"Eleven is not too young for war," Ike said to Barfoot, who swished his tail agreeably, then lumbered to the yard table and stuck his nose in an unattended pie.
When a steamboat arrives heralding the news that Iowa has been called up to represent the Union of the United States of America, Ike is beside himself with excitement. For months, the promise of war has enveloped small-town Keokuk like a grand game that everyone’s in on — everyone but Ike, his swaybacked pony, and his best friend and checkers partner, Albirdie. Left behind with Mother and the aunts and girl cousins while the Button men march forth toward glory, Ike’s fate is sealed. Unless he can call on the ingenuity of his fabled (some say cursed) ancestor — the adventuresome Uncle Palmer — seek passage to Missouri disguised as a drummer boy, and meet up with the Iowa First. But some opportunities are meant to be missed. And some arrive when you least expect them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Ike Button, 11 and an endearing combination of credulous and cranky, is a high-energy wannabe hero who is constantly getting knocked down. And that's what makes him such fun. ... The characters charm, and the material is enhanced by the author's well-realized rendition of time and place.
—Kirkus Reviews

Ylvisaker’s writing is clear and engaging... Readers will find a lot to relate to and cheer for in Ike, who merely wants to live up to his uncle’s legacy of adventurous deeds. ... A sweet, fast-paced story.
—School Library Journal

The third installment in the delightful Button family saga... Anne Ylvisaker wastes no words; her narrative is charming in its simplicity and entrances the reader by fully immersing them in the time and place.
—BookPage

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
This third volume in Ylvisaker’s saga about the hapless Button family is set earlier in time, when “Granddaddy Ike” is an eleven-year-old boy and the young men of Keokuk, Iowa, have just enlisted in the Union army. Ike’s father, uncles, and older brothers head off with martial zeal, to Ike’s enormous chagrin at being left behind with his mother (who needs constant solitude for her “nerves”), his best friend, Albirdie, and a passel of girl cousins. “Eleven is not too young for war,” Ike declares to his loyal, but largely useless pony, Barfoot. He begins to scheme how he can follow his brothers in the general direction of “South” (if he can win Albirdie’s cherished compass from her in a checker match) and serve as a drummer boy (if he can find some drumsticks to replace those he foolishly hurled into the Mississippi). But Ike is going to find out that “The war is happening here, too,” and an eleven-year-old kid and a broken-down pony can help advance the most important cause for which the war is being waged. Ylvisaker excels at creating a pitch-perfect portrait of small town Midwestern life in 1861, from war games with paper dolls to squabbling over abolition by the ladies of the Soldiers’ Aid Society. Funny, believable, and big hearted. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.; Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
10/01/2014
Gr 3–6—Anne Ylvisaker continues her series about the Button clan. These loosely connected books feature different generations of the family across various historical periods. Here readers meet Ike, who is left behind when all his brothers, his father, and his uncle go off to fight for the Union in the Civil War. He desperately wants to find a way to sneak off and join them, but ultimately finds that there is a war (of sorts) to fight at home, too. Ylvisaker's writing is clear and engaging, but the plot is a bit predictable and the characters develop in standard lines for the genre. Still, readers will find a lot to relate to and cheer for in Ike, who merely wants to live up to his uncle's legacy of adventurous deeds. While not the most original historical fiction book in recent years, there will be a spot in medium-sized libraries for this sweet, fast-paced story, especially where the previous installments are popular. The author's note at the end aptly explains the research process and encourages students to discover their own local history.—Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Kirkus Reviews
2014-09-03
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. Ike Button, 11 and an endearing combination of credulous and cranky, is a high-energy wannabe hero who is constantly getting knocked down. And that's what makes him such fun. Hapless, continually bested by the conniving Hinman brothers, beaten by 12-year-old Albirdie Woolley in brainpower and checkers, and forced to help out in ignominious ways, Ike is continually scrambling. After an extensive setup that details the warp and weft of life in 1860s Iowa—kids should marvel at the differences in daily experiences—Ike is put to the test. He discovers a runaway slave woman and later her young sons in a time when it is legal to capture and return runaway slaves to their owners, even in free states. This forces Ike, not exactly a deep thinker, to make a moral decision and take action, leading to his realization that the war being waged is fought not only on the battlefield. 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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763661380
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/29/2014
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 636,305
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Ylvisaker is the author of Dear Papa, which was named a Booklist Top Ten First Novel for Youth, as well as Little Klein and two previous books about the Button family. She lives in California.

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