Author Anne Ylvisaker
I was the host of our book club last night and we had a a fantastic time. Through a round of chance encounters (one of our members worked with Anne's husband in Cedar Rapids a few years back) and after I'd read and loved Little Klein we cooked up a plan to read a few of her books and see if she would skype with us. We're so happy she agreed.
Ylvisaker grew up in Minnesota; in the St. Paul area, her father was a minister and she spent time in Iowa as an adult as well. All three of her fiction books take place in these Midwest settings. She had a lot of good stories to tell; some about her family and some about her writing process. I particularly loved this one...her writing group at one time gathered words and shared them with each other; using them to write with that week. She could pick them out of Little Klein and demonstrated how they raised the story up. She also shared many of the personal family stories that have became part of her books.
It was one of the best book club experiences we've had and it had nothing to do with the delicious food or the wine. It was the lively conversation we had with her and the discussion we had after we hung up the camera.
I'm a huge fan of hers and hope you will take time to read any of her fiction books for fun.
I read Dear Papa recently (2002) a wonderful elementary/middle grade fiction that shares the letters Isabelle writes to her deceased father and other family members as she deals with her grief and her mother's eventual remarriage. The book is filled with daily joys and disappointments...just like real life. It takes place in Minnesota around the second World War.
Here's a snippet:
"Dear Papa, Jan. 1, 1944 It's a brand-new year. I have made some resolutions: Help the first time Mama asks. Hang up my clothes before bed. Go to church with a willing heart. Keep our family together. Your daughter,Isabelle, nine and a half today" (15)
I also read her latest book, The Luck of the Buttons (2011) about a young Iowa girl, Tugs Buttons, who is cursed with an unlucky family. Tugs changes her stars as she wins a three-legged race, an essay contest and a raffle all at the 4th of July celebration. She suffers some hard times but in the end she is able to show her family sometimes you got to make your own luck happen. Tugs is another positive young heroine!
Another snippet to share:
"Tugs shrugged into yesterday's clothes, which still lay in a heap on the floor, slipped past Granny, who was writing a letter at the kitchen table, and collected five pennies from her mother on her way out the door. Wednesday mornings were Granddaddy Ike's checkers mornings. and in the summer, Tugs was in charge of walking him from his house to Al and Irene's Luncheonette..."(60)We found out she has two more books in the works about this Button family and the next one up is Button Down, featuring Tugs' cousin, Ned. Read my review of Little Klein here, which features an adorable boy and a dog combo that will make you smile to the heavens.
There was a grand moment for me when Ylvisaker recognized the "Peaceful Reader" name and asked if we were not on twitter together...I was over-the-moon-thrilled!
Thank you to Anne for taking time out of her busy schedule (her children had just returned home for the holidays) to talk with our group and to all authors who make themselves available to us, their adoring readers.
Thank you to my book club friends for willingly taking this leap of faith with me and Kay!
(now I'm thinking why didn't I ask her for a preview copy of Button Down...silly me)