Are you ready for Ivy Pocket? A darkly whimsical and wickedly funny tale of a twelve-year-old maid of no importance who finds herself at the very heart of a conspiracy involving mischief, ghosts, and murder. School Library Journal says, “Fans of . . . Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will love Ivy Pocket’s zany adventures.” Featuring extensive black-and-white interior art by Barbara Cantini.
Ivy Pocket is a walking disaster, at every turn enraging and appalling the aristocrats she works for. But our protagonist doesn’t see herself that way at all. In fact, she’s convinced that she’s rather wonderful, perfectly charming, and extremely talented. When Ivy finds herself abandoned and penniless in Paris, she has no idea how she will get back to England. Fate intervenes when Ivy is called to the sickbed of a dying duchess and is charged with delivering a spectacular (and possibly cursed) diamond necklace to Matilda Butterfield on her twelfth birthday. From that moment on, Ivy Pocket is propelled towards her remarkable destiny in a surprising adventure full of intrigue, villains, mayhem, and misunderstandings. ALA Booklist calls Anyone but Ivy Pocket “A droll chapter book with a Victorian setting and a one-of-a-kind protagonist.”
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mystery and intrigue that are woven through the story is gripping, and draws you in.
A twelve year old protagonist with an ostensibly inflated self-image despite her rather lowly birth and position characterize the story of Anyone But Ivy Pocket. The first in what appears to be a series of stories that follow Ivy through mystery and adventures.
I’m rather torn about this story, while it was difficult to put down because I needed to know just what will happen next, Ivy herself is a bit of a difficult pill to swallow. I can’t decide if this is a satirical take on an “Amelia Bedelia” type of character or a serious entrant into creating a new archetype for the pre-teen heroine. I’m hoping this is an early introduction to satire and using an extreme example of character in caricature-like ways to tell a story.
Ivy has a very large ego: she is highly imaginative and doesn’t have the capacity to distinguish truth from lies. That unfortunately leads her into huge flights of fancy or great detailed lies, depending on the viewpoint you wish to attach. While working as a lady’s maid at 12 is not an easy life, Ivy’s temperament is nasty- she’s rude, judgmental, prone to name-calling and completely without a filter. On the flip side, the adults who deal with her are just as rude and uncaring, many with deep secrets and mysteries that surround them.
And this is where my problems with this story began. I didn’t like Ivy, I couldn’t reconcile her repeated bad behavior and lack of growth or learning from her mistakes throughout the story with a character that I wanted to read more about. But I couldn’t stop reading: the humor is most definitely juvenile, a small step up from bathroom funnies, but the mystery and intrigue that are woven through the story is gripping, and draws you in.
Words are repeated often, sometimes serving only to dull the impact and import of the words: monstrously is used so frequently as an adjective to dull its effect – nothing is monstrous if everything is. As the writing and plotting are so very clever and intriguing, I’ve decided that this is a first introduction to satire for middle grade readers: over the top in a Monty Python-esque way, with one catastrophe after another, some funny in their pure moments of ridiculous. Ivy is difficult and doesn’t grow or learn from her mistakes, but sometimes we all need a few lessons to really change.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.