Every member of the Button family suffers from bad luck, especially twelve-year-old Tugs Esther. Tugs always manages to say and do the wrong thing. She even annoys some of her own luckless family by winning three prizes on the fourth of July. Despite her social ineptness (or perhaps because of it), Tugs has developed keen observation skills. When the smooth-talking, handsome Harvey Moore arrives in Goodhue, presumably to establish a local newspaper, Tugs becomes suspicious. Everyone in town thinks Harvey is going to put Goodhue on the map. Could Tugs be wrong to suggest they should not invest in this venture until they have more information about his past?
Tugs presents a delightful mixture of a sweet little girl and a budding adolescent. While she struggles to be accepted by her peers, she does not lose her compassion, sincerity or her respect for her elders. Although most of her family and neighbors do not appreciate her, Tugs’ parents understand her and provide a safe haven from a world that expects conformity. Clearly it is that solid family life that gives Tugs the courage to go against the tide. With a page out of The Music Man, Ylvisaker’s book looks at the middle school years from a positive vantage.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.