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Button Down    by Anne Ylvisaker order for
Button Down
by Anne Ylvisaker
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

In this short novel for youngsters eight years of age and up, the central character, eleven year old Ned Button, discovers that when it comes to football, strategy trumps size.

Growing up in a small town in Iowa in the 1920s, Ned loves to play football, but he's not terribly good at it. He and his friends play the game with a ball fashioned from paper and string and they are no match for the bigger kids in town.

That all changes when the local high school football hero goes off to play at the University of Iowa and leaves his prized football behind. The ensuing conflict over which group of kids gets to use the ball provides one of the conflicts in the story.

Dealing with the disdain of the older and bigger kids, following his passion for football, and learning that he can use his brains to offset a few physical shortcomings, Ned and his gang are able to teach the other kids a thing or two about football.

Actually, Ned's grandfather is the person who enlightens the boy and teaches him strategy. The two are quite close, which means the ending of the novel holds some very emotional surprises for both the reader and the novel's central character.

This is a follow-up to the author's The Luck of the Buttons, which featured Ned's older cousin, a girl named Tug. Hopefully there will be more stories about this likeable and eccentric, small town family. They are a delightful group of characters.

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