The Luck of the Buttons

The Luck of the Buttons

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Random House, Inc.
In Iowa circa 1929, spunky twelve-year-old Tugs vows to turn her family’s luck around, with the help of a Brownie camera and a small-town mystery.
(Ages 8-12)

Tugs Esther Button was born to a luckless family. Buttons don’t presume to be singers or dancers. They aren’t athletes or artists, good listeners, or model citizens. The one time a Button ever made the late Goodhue Gazette - before Harvey Moore came along with his talk of launching a new paper - was when Great Grandaddy Ike accidentally set Town Hall ablaze. Tomboy Tugs looks at her hapless family and sees her own reflection looking back until she befriends popular Aggie Millhouse, wins a new camera in the Independence Day raffle, and stumbles into a mystery only she can solve. Suddenly this is a summer of change - and by its end, being a Button may just turn out to be what one clumsy, funny, spirited, and very observant young heroine decides to make of it.

Baker & Taylor
In Iowa circa 1929, spunky twelve-year-old Tugs vows to turn her family's luck around, with the help of a Brownie camera and a small-town mystery that only she can solve.


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LocketLibrarian Jun 06, 2012

really nicely done piece of historical fiction.

olson_ys Feb 20, 2012

Tugs Esther Button isn’t like the other kids in her small Iowa town in 1929. The most obvious difference is her name but there is also her family to consider. Tugs comes from a long line of unlucky Buttons; a family convinced that they will never catch a break, never win, never become more than their name. Things start to change for Tugs, though, when she enters and wins the Independence Day three-legged race with her popular schoolmate, Aggie Millhouse. That very same day, she wins an essay contest and a raffle for a new camera. Tugs can’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, her luck has changed for good. Now all she has to do is figure out how to use her new confidence to prove that the charming but shady newcomer in town is really a criminal con-man determined to take the townsfolk for all they’ve got. Can Tugs convince herself, her family, and the town of Goodhue, that Buttons really are good for something? Read this charming and fun novel to find out!


A svelte little novel that’s chock full of plum, pluck, and vinegar, Ylvisaker gives us a heroine you can believe in but never pity. And the readability? Through the roof, man. Through the roof.

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ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12


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If you’re growing up in Goodhue, Iowa then you probably know the Button family. More to the point, you probably know that they’re just about the most luckless group of nobodies ever to place a foot on God’s green earth. This has been true for generations and there’s no reason to think that Tugs Button would be any different. Yet this year, she seems to be. First thing, Tugs wins the three-footed race with fancy Aggie Millhouse as her partner (Aggie’s another story right there). Next, she wins the essay content for a piece of writing she though she’d dumped in the trash. And then third, she wins a raffle for a real, honest-to-goodness, Brownie camera. A gorgeous camera that takes great photographs. If the luck of Tugs is turning around, she’d definitely going to need it. There’s a fast-talking newspaper man in town taking donations for a new paper, and Tugs is certain the fellow’s up to no good. The result is a story of a girl who’s been sleepwalking through her own life until, one day, she gets lucky.


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"Buttons considered victory, even for one’s affiliated party in national politics, showing off."


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