as you read you’ll learn about family and football, the 1930’s and dedication. just right for middle readers – when you’re done you’ll be hoping for more stories about the Buttons.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our assumptions and unexamined stereotypes make us act. And I’ve been wondering how books can help us change. Button Down is the second book by Anne Ylvisaker about the Button family. They’re from rural Iowa. During the Depression the Button family may not have much, but they do have each other – and they have the Hawkeye football.
For the first time in Goodhue history their high school football hero is going to State to play ball. Ned, being a Button through and through is not very talented, but he is dedicated to the game. As Lester is leaving for college he tosses his ball out and miraculously Ned catches it. He only has seconds to savor his catch before Burton grabs the ball from his hands and claims it as his own. Burton is Lester’s younger brother and son to the owners of the Ben Franklin. He claims he can do whatever he wants to a Button, and he does. But you can’t play football alone. You need a team to play against so Burton and Ned set up a game – the winner get to keep the Lester’s ball.
Ned and his group can’t practice in the field. Burton’s team does. Ned’s team has to play with a newspaper ball wrapped with twine. It’s the best they have, and not nearly as good as the real thing. It seems there’s no way they won’t get killed. Sometimes in order to succeed, you need someone who believes in you and that’s when Granddaddy Ike get’s involved. He can hardly walk. He can hardly hear and his heart seems to be failing, but he helps Ned understand that winning football is not about what you have or how hard you can hit; it’s also about strategy, plays and doing what they other team doesn’t expect.
“I might have underestimated you,” said Granddaddy. Figured you were like the rest of this lot, tree roots growing out of the soles of their shoes, tethering them to this one spot of soil, now to kingdom come. Rather hear about a thing than do a thing. Hmmmm…”
Nothing is as it seems or as smooth as we wish, but reading Button Down to find out how the game goes is worth every page – when you finish you’ll have a new idea about what it means to have heart and how much is matters to have someone who knows you inside and out and believes in you all the way. Go out – play the game, if you don’t you’ll never know it you can.