Poison Ivy

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Overview

When three popular girls go on trial in Government class for their ruthless bullying of a girl named Ivy, it seems like the misfit will finally get her revenge. Eight first-person narrators give different versions of the event: Ivy—this victim doesn’t want revenge, she just wants to be left alone; Ann—she’s the beautiful, but infamously cruel, leader of the bullies; Marco—he may be the only person involved who has any morals, but he’s also the target of Ann’s persuasive affections; Daria—Ivy’s painfully shy ...

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Overview

When three popular girls go on trial in Government class for their ruthless bullying of a girl named Ivy, it seems like the misfit will finally get her revenge. Eight first-person narrators give different versions of the event: Ivy—this victim doesn’t want revenge, she just wants to be left alone; Ann—she’s the beautiful, but infamously cruel, leader of the bullies; Marco—he may be the only person involved who has any morals, but he’s also the target of Ann’s persuasive affections; Daria—Ivy’s painfully shy lawyer doesn’t stand a chance; Bryce—the goofy court reporter knows all the real dirt, even if he doesn’t care; Cameron—he sleeps through the proceedings but might wake up just in time to make a difference; Wayne—a true devotee of the legal process, too bad he’s on the sidelines; and Faith—as the only witness for the prosecution, it all comes down to her. But where do her loyalties lie?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Koss (The Girls), with a fascinating premise, uses the authentic voices of eight diverse teens to create a "mock trial" in an American Government class. When loner Ivy confesses to her teacher that she has been taunted and teased for years by pretty, popular Ann and her sidekicks ("The Evil Three have been after me, feeding off me since fourth grade"), the woman sees the situation as an opportunity to model their study of the judicial system. The names of the lawyers for the plaintiff and defendants are randomly chosen from a paper bag, followed by the rather tedious process of selecting a jury. Distinct personalities emerge from the narratives of the principle players: self-protectively aloof Ivy, who frequently uses fish analogies to describe herself ("so I swam upstream, alone against the current"); painfully shy and insecure Daria (the "best student"), who reluctantly assumes the role of Ivy's attorney; reflective, even-handed Marco, who is simultaneously entranced and disgusted by Ann; and the manipulative villainess herself, a study in superficiality and spite. The interactions among the students in and out of the "courtroom" offer readers intriguing and often disturbing perspectives on popularity, peer pressure, bullying and fairness. In the end, Marco best articulates the outcome: "Beauty wins and truth is irrelevant. Grim, isn't it?" Yes. And, in these pages, it's all too convincing. Ages 11-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
I liked the format and the topic of this book. It was written like a trial, and it was interesting to read each student's perception about school. Unfortunately the book wasn't descriptive enough, and it was difficult to understand exactly what occurred. Some of the characters were unrealistic and I did not enjoy reading about them. The topic of bullying is a good one for eighth and ninth graders, but the book fails to deliver. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, A Deborah Brodie Book/Roaring Brook, 176p., Ages 11 to 18.
—Liza M. David, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature
The high school American Government teacher wants to have a mock trial in class with her students. No one wants to volunteer to be part of it. Nevertheless, one event leads to another and the trial concerning "Poison" Ivy and those that bully her begins. The author has a unique writing style and lets the reader see the firsthand account of each main character in the book by using his or her own words to tell the story. Read how each teen does not want to be part of this trial and voices his opinion about what is going on. Find out what the main character, Ivy, learns about her classmates and teacher. See how each person has their own flaws and how they feel about themselves and their ability in the trial. Read about a scheme that is going on with one of the characters so she can look good in the end. Through the plotting and conspiring, the readers will see if true justice prevails in the end. This attention-grabbing book will keep the reader turning the pages until the end. Children will take pleasure in reading about Ivy and the other characters. They will find that these characters may represent some of their classmates in their own school. 2006, Deborah Brodie Book/Roaring Book Press, Ages 12 to 17.
—Cathi I. White
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Ivy has been a victim of relentless bullying for years. Nicknamed "Poison Ivy" by Ann, Benita, and Sophie in fourth grade, she can hardly remember what it was like to be just plain Ivy. When earnest Ms. Gold, the middle school American government teacher, finds a depressing poem written by Ivy, she decides to put "The Evil Three" on trial for bullying. She is hoping to create a perfect learning experience to illustrate the American judicial system to the class-and possibly to teach the three girls a lesson. What Ms. Gold does not count on, however, is the power of popular kids and the resulting political leverage. Students are assigned roles: counsel for the plaintiff, process server, judge, jury, etc. The action is related through the multiple voices of the major figures in the mock trial proceedings, and readers see many personalities emerge in the alternate chapters. Of particular interest is the relationship among "The Evil Three." Ann, the leader, clearly enjoys the status that Benita and Sophie give her in their roles as bystanders in the bullying process. Realistic dialogue and fast-paced action will hold interest, and the final verdict is unsettling, but not unexpected. This book will be useful for class discussions along with Koss's The Girls (Dial, 2000), another realistic and equally effective look at the agonizing bullying of a classmate.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ivy hands the perfect crime to a teacher aching to have a mock trial to educate the students about the legal system. Cut and dried, she's been picked on, bullied and emotionally abused for ages by the "Anns." When Ms. Gold sees an opportunity, she makes the most of it and in no time, has attorneys appointed, the judge selected and, after some negotiation, a jury of peers. Well, no one wants to be Ivy's peer, really. Told in a series of transcripts that are the statements of the interested parties, including Ann, Benita and Sophia, also known as the "Evil Three," Koss delivers the crushing and thoughtless cruelty of adolescents with great accuracy. The words of one of the jurors tell it all: "Popularity is the wrong word. Popularity means everyone likes you. But no one likes sour popular girls; it's more about fear. The word for them is powerful more than popular. Think soulless zombies; think living dead, hungry for fresh blood. If anything I bet my fellow jurors were afraid they'd become the Anns' next victim if they got caught sympathizing with Ivy." (Fiction. 11-14)
From the Publisher
“The message is clear: beauty, popularity, and fear are the trinity by which girls rule, and although most teenagers aren’t cruel, many are indifferent to the suffering of their peers and are thankful they aren’t the ones in the spotlight. . . . compelling reading for teenagers in the trenches.”—Booklist

“[Koss] uses the authentic voices of eight diverse teens to create a “mock trial” in an American Government class. . . . The interactions among the students in and out of the “courtroom” offer readers intriguing and often disturbing perspectives on popularity, peer pressure, bullying and fairness. In the end, Marco best articulates the outcome: ‘Beauty wins and truth is irrelevant. Grim, isn’t it?’ Yes. And, in these pages, it’s all too convincing.”—Publishers Weekly

“Realistic dialogue and fast-paced action will hold interest, and the final verdict is unsettling, but not unexpected.”—School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596431188
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 3/7/2006
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Goldman Koss is the author of several highly praised teen novels including The Girls, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Quick Picks Top Ten selection, and an IRA Young Adult Choice; and The Cheat, an IRA-CBC Children’s Choice. Poison Ivy was praised by The Horn Book for its “honesty and unforgettable voice” and by Publishers Weekly as “fascinating and intriguing.” She lives in Glendale, CA, with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 8, 2009

    Anticlimactic, Predictable

    Just when this book was getting warmed up, it ended. There could have been so much more accomplished with this premise, I'm sad to see the author took the easy way out and gave the expected, predictable storyline. The characters were one-dimensional, as was the plot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    It ended like the author just wanted to get rid of the book. Alm

    It ended like the author just wanted to get rid of the book. Almost like she didn't even wanted to work on it any more. There could've been so much more interesting ending but she just cut the story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    Very Unique Novel

    Normally, I hate novels with more than three POVs, but I had no trouble differentiating between all of these characters. (I always have a hard time with Jodi Picoult trial books). They are all very unique and different and it doesn't take a long time to pick up on it.
    I loved the plot, and most of the characters, but the ending made me throw the book on the ground because it was so frustrating.
    It bothered me that Ann was such an unrealistic, selfish character. It also bothered me that Ivy was hardly depressed or upset after all this time. He coping method was interesting, but I don't really think it was enough. I also wish that there had been some type of conclusion between Ivy and the struggle with her mother. It was one of the loose strings in the book that never really tied up.
    Despite my criticisms, I really did like this book. I'm nearly 17 and I know that this book was aimed a younger range, but I still loved it the same. I really related to Marco in his frustration over the whole thing, and I thought that his thoughts were really well written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2010

    I Wish This Book Could Been Better...

    I was engrossed by the storyline and wanted to read more. Next thing I knew it ended with a half decent ending and a frown on my face. Ivy's description of her life was very touching, but her stupid complaints on the trail has got to stop! I don't want to read her constant moaning about the trail taking place! I wished the author took on a deeper perspective of Ivy. Not only Ivy moans but Ivy's lawyer, Daria moans too! I understand her phobia of public speaking, but that is what all she talks about. Reading her dialect makes myself more annoyed with the girl than I did before. Apart from the complaints of the trail taking place, the author displayed a well, but not quite there novel. I wish it ended differently. This book could been better.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

    Ivy has been teased and bullied every day since the fourth grade by three very popular girls at school.

    Ms. Gold wants to have a mock trial in her government class. She decides that Ivy should sue the evil three.

    All Ivy wants is an apology and to be left alone.

    Told through eight different voices, this book is about the trial. Not only is Ivy a victim, but we also are told the story of Daria, the painfully shy student who ends up representing Ivy in the trial even though she doesn't want to.

    What I had a hard time with was the indifference of the bystanders, those who see the abuse every day but decide they can't or won't do anything about it. I also had a hard time with the teacher, who delights in seeing her students squirm.

    But I believe that bullies need to be stood up to - and not only by the victim, but by all of society. This illustrates the fact that when kids see bullying done to others they also need to stand up for what is right and not let them get away with it.

    POISON IVY, I believe, is an important book which should be read in junior high and discussed in classrooms across the United States.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Truthful

    This book really shows how power takes all. Hoping that good will conquer evil, this multi-insights story leaves readers with a, although expected, twist at the end. As for the narrow, gritty part, the writing, was just alright. I felt myself sometimes wondering when something was change or happen, showing how static this story is. So, I do wonder if static is good?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 21, 2009

    Life isn't Fair

    High school students recollect a mock trial that was thrust upon them by an overzealous government teacher. The trial consists of one bullied girl with some very interesting coping mechanisms bringing suit against her attackers. The attackers, of course, are three popular girls who comfortably perch atop their high school¿s social hierarchy. Without saying too much, things do not go well for any of the trail's participants. But, you know what, life isn't fair, high school even more so. In response to the criticism that the book lacks resolution, so does adolescence. I'm just grateful to finally see a book that reflects all this.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 20, 2009

    Swimming against the current

    Like drummers marching to a different beat, high school is like a fish pond or bowl full of all kinds of fish. Ivy feels like a fish out of water, or at least a fish swimming to a different wave. When her teacher at school presents her with a teaching/learning situation, Ivy is cornered into a confrontation with the bullies. She would prefer to swim away, not that I could blame her. In fact, it seems that all the the fish would prefer to swim away and not acknowledge that bullying or mistreatment actually exist. The author has presented a timeless story that addresses and sums up the indifference and apathy of society, and that it is no different in high school. My conclusion, can the reader take away from this story a desire to obliterate injustice, indifference and apathy and make a difference in their own lives when faced with people who are mistreated. I enjoyed the story.<BR/>Deborah Fleet, MLS Librarian

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2006

    Disappointing and Hard To Digest

    The book begins with a letter from the author (?) to the superintendent of schools in regards to the American Government teacher who conducted a mock trial in her classroom. What follows is the recollection of the students involved. Although I read it to the end, I kept waiting for some redeeming value or point to this book. There was none. As the author simply ends the book with an excerpt from 'Ann', the leader of the Evil Three. Gloating over the fact that she can do anything to anybody and has so little regard for anybody but herself. Should the author at least not have included a letter back from the Superintendent of Schools stating what actions were going to be taken against the Evil Three? The author seems to be complaining about the teacher allowing this trial to take place, not the real problem. Could this author actually be 'Ann'?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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