Ivy Takes Care

Overview

In a heart- and humor-filled adventure by On the Blue Comet author Rosemary Wells, a girl spends a summer caring for animals in the mid-century Southwest.

Brokenhearted after her best friend leaves for the entire summer, Ivy rallies and finds herself something new and exciting to do: she hires herself out to look after people’s farm animals and pets while they’re away. So begins a summer of discovery and definition for tenderhearted but sensible Ivy, who must win over the ...

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Ivy Takes Care

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Overview

In a heart- and humor-filled adventure by On the Blue Comet author Rosemary Wells, a girl spends a summer caring for animals in the mid-century Southwest.

Brokenhearted after her best friend leaves for the entire summer, Ivy rallies and finds herself something new and exciting to do: she hires herself out to look after people’s farm animals and pets while they’re away. So begins a summer of discovery and definition for tenderhearted but sensible Ivy, who must win over the stubborn pony Chestnut, take on the training of a puppy named Inca, and patiently court the trust of the magnificent but scarred racehorse, Andromeda. All this while tending to her own private hurts and hopes, and managing the hapless tagalong Billy Joe, who has a knack for trouble and accidents like nobody else. Celebrated writer Rosemary Wells delivers a compassionately observed and exquisitely distilled novel set in mid-century Nevada about a heroine with an exceptional gift, a heart of gold, and a budding dream for her future.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wells’s quiet period piece is set in 1949 on a ranch near Reno, Nev., where almost-sixth-grader Ivy’s parents work. Ivy’s deep compassion for animals spurs her to offer herself as caretaker for pets and farm animals while their owners are away; her experiences inspire her aspirations to become a veterinarian. Effectively structured in three sections, each focusing on Ivy’s relationship with a different animal, the story proceeds chronologically and developmentally as Ivy faces crises with her charges—often caused by “nothing but trouble” Billy Joe, her careless companion and the ranch owners’ son—and grapples with middle-grade friendship problems. Secondary characters perform reliably: Dr. Rinaldi, the local vet, is always on hand for emergencies and career advice; Ivy’s hardworking parents stand by her; and the strangers who hire her are kind and sympathetic. Animal lovers will feast on the details Wells (Following Grandfather) includes and envy Ivy’s opportunities to lavish her care on dogs, horses, and even a new litter of fox kits; all will be quickly won over by her good nature, determination, confidence and loyalty. Art not seen by PW. Ages 8–11. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Ivy's best friend Annie leaves Nevada for a prestigious summer camp in New Hampshire and Ivy wonders how she will endure the long days at her at home, the Red Star Ranch. It is not long before Ivy is recognized for the sensible girl she is and she gets a job caring for a pony named Chestnut. That in turn earns her the trust of a German shepherd expert who asks her to care for his newest puppy, Inca. Ivy's greatest challenge comes in caring for a past-his-prime thoroughbred race horse named Andromeda. With the guidance of Dr. Rinaldi the local vet, and a retired jockey Ruben, Ivy soon realizes her true passion and begins to save her hard earned money for veterinary college. All is not ideal in the life of fifth grader Ivy who realizes that she and Annie are growing apart and there is also trouble in the form of neighbor Billy Joe who knows no end of ways to wreak havoc. The story is told simply with a rock-solid, dependable heroine but lacks depth. Set in 1949, Nevada the story reflects the unhurried pace of the time period and Ivy's homey lifestyle. Charcoal sketches throughout handsomely capture the animals and a few of the tense moments in Ivy's summer. Neatly divided into three sections, the story flows effortlessly but its appeal may be limited to girls who have a great affection for animals. The back cover sports a photo of the author on horseback in 1958 so perhaps this is her reminiscent ode. An appealing cover and the Rosemary Wells name will lead some to pick it up and while they will not find an exciting story, it will satisfy. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Twelve-year-old Ivy Coleman's hardscrabble ranching family is just scraping by, while her friend Annie Evans's well-to-do parents can afford to send her to an expensive East Coast summer camp. Their differences never seemed that important before, but this year Ivy starts feeling inferior to Annie's camp friends. They part ways for the summer on bad terms, which inspires Ivy to buy Annie a conciliatory Tru-Friendship ring. To earn the money, she starts a pet-sitting business. Annie moves to the back of Ivy's mind as she focuses on interacting with her animal charges and her aspirations to become a veterinarian. While Ivy is unflappably responsible, her neighbor Billy Joe Butterworth often tags along and wreaks havoc at every job. Fortunately, the kindly local vet always sets things right. Ivy does, in fact, buy Annie the ring, yet they aren't able to reclaim the closeness they once had. But now Ivy has her business and the dream of becoming a vet, and she holds these things tight as Annie drifts away. Parts of the story are a touch didactic-they can read like a manual on how to care for animals. Ivy is perhaps too responsible to be believable, yet she is still immensely likable and will inspire children who are interested in veterinary care. There are quite a few highly suspenseful moments when animals are in peril, and these instances keep the pages turning. Give this one to animal lovers.—Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Seemingly plucked from a middle-of–last-century bookshelf, this wholesome tale of a spunky fifth-grade girl's experiences in rural Nevada has a paint-by-numbers feel that keeps it from living up to the author's illustrious reputation. Readers meet Ivy as she bikes up a hill to visit her friend Annie, stopping along the way to rescue a turtle that's been run over. While Annie and Ivy's relationship plays a role in the plot, Ivy's love of animals and dreams for the future quickly become the focus. Looking for a way to earn some money, Ivy decides to offer her services as an animal sitter. While life was likely simpler in 1949, at least in some ways, the ease with which Ivy finds jobs and the local vet's trust in her abilities (he allows her to give a wild fox an injection) will both seem a mite unlikely to contemporary readers. A pesky neighbor boy creates some unexpected problems, but overall, it's smooth sailing with an especially happy ending (no dead dogs here). Although the tone is spot-on, with endearingly folksy dialogue and an innocent worldview, the contrived plot and limited character development will likely keep readers from caring much about Ivy. Disappointingly bland fare, this might please enthusiastic animal lovers or parents who prefer squeaky-clean stories but will leave most other readers wishing for more. (Historical fiction. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763676605
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/10/2015
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Rosemary Wells has written and/or illustrated more than 120 books for children, including Following Grandfather, illustrated by Christopher Denise, and On the Blue Comet, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Rosemary Wells lives in upstate New York.

Jim LaMarche is the illustrator of more than twenty books for children, including Dennis Haseley’s A Story for Bear; The Carousel by Liz Rosenberg; The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed; and Albert by Donna Jo Napoli. He is the author-illustrator of The Raft. Jim LaMarche grew up in Wisconsin and now lives in California.

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