The Curse of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker

The Curse of the Buttons is the story of Ike, his mom, aunts, and cousins, (all girls), and his best friend Albirdie who were left at home when the men in the family go off to fight against the Confederates in the Civil War.  Ike tries several times to join his brothers but something keeps getting in the way.  

Although Ike is only 11 and cannot go to war he ends up doing something else to support the war effort.  At first, he tries to sneak aboard the steamboat with his family. He makes a plan to sneak down south and that plan falls through.  While the men in his family go off to do their duty for the Union.  Ike and Albirdie get caught up in secret plans and help the war effort in their own way.  In a time when families are split and communities are pulling apart between letting the Confederacy and Union separate, and laws are made to return runaway slaves to their owners, Ike and his family pull together and stay strong.  The families move into two homes rather than three.  They allow the third house to be a community house for the community to meet together in support of the troops.

Although this story is fictional, Anne uses real events to create the story line.  It was a difficult time for our country and Ike, Albirdie and the Buttons were able to play an important role during this tumultuous time in our history.  I think this would be a good book for students to read to introduce a lesson in American history. I am giving The Curse of the Buttons five stars because Ike and Albirdie help to show readers that anyone can make a difference if they follow their convictions.



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