Thursday, November 10, 2011
Review: The Luck of the Buttons
by Anne Ylvisaker
Candlewick Press (April 2011)
Ages 8 and up
It's 1929 in Goodhue, Iowa and twelve-year old Tugs Button is yearning to break free from generations of hapless Button tradition in which winning is a pompous pursuit and badge of shame. Due to the great good fortune of being the exact same height as the town's most popular girl, Aggie Millhouse, Tugs Button is a prime candidate to pair up with Aggie for the Fourth of July three legged race and maybe, just maybe, have a shot at a blue ribbon. The idea of winning something, anything, opens up a world of other possibilities for Tugs, all of which fly in the face of Button family values.
The Luck of the Buttons is an utterly delightful, delicately crafted novel of life in small town America, where Rowdies rule the road and a flim flam man is poised to fleece its residents of their life savings. Ylvisaker resists cliche's (the popular girl is actually kind and helpful and being poor isn't a shame, it's just a way of life) and offers up a subtle, yet lively, spin on shedding limitations and trusting one's instincts.
Ylvisaker shows great restraint by weaving in storylines such as the flim flam man without taking away from the primary focus, which is Tugs internal struggles to rise above the lucklessness of the Buttons. This is a character driven novel that's beautifully blended with its engaging plot, clipping along at a fast pace while still maintaining the slow sway of Goodhue's way of life.
This is one great read.
Source: I borrowed my copy from the library.