Monday, April 22, 2013

Ivy Takes Care by Rosemary Wells

It is summer 1949 and Ivy's best friend Annie is leaving Nevada for her fancy camp in New Hampshire.  On her way to say goodbye, Ivy finds an injured turtle, which she put in her bike basket and takes to Annie's house.  But when she arrives, a snooty camp friend is also there and it is clear she does not think Ivy is good enough for her and Annie.

Afraid their friendship is over, Ivy decides to buy a $5.00 friendship ring to send to Annie in the hope that it can be saved.  But how to get that much money?  In Ivy's house, every penny is apportioned into envelopes to pay bills, and there is never any left over.  Her dad is a hired hand on a small dude ranch that caters to people getting quick divorces in Reno.  But Ivy know how to take care of all kinds of animals and puts up advertisements offering her services to care for animals while their owners are on vacation.

It takes a while, but finally Ivy gets a call - could she take care of a horse named Chestnut?  And the owner gives her half her pay in advance - $5.00, just enough to buy that friendship ring and send it to Annie.

One day while caring for Chestnut, Ivy finds an injured mother fox with her four kits in the next stall.  Most farmers and ranchers hated foxes, but Ivy tries to care for it from a distance, giving the fox a baby aspirin in some food everyday, but to no avail.  When the vet, Dr. Rinaldi, stops by to check on Chestnut, he helps Ivy with the fox as well.  Noticing how well she works with animals, Dr. Rinaldi suggests she think about becoming a veterinarian.  And so a new envelope is made at home to save for college in the future.

More jobs come Ivy's way, including caring for and training a beautiful German Shepard pup named Inca, bought by a man who was divorcing his wife because she didn't like his other dogs.  Ivy falls in love with Inca and misses him terribly when dog and owner leave Nevada, thinking she will never see him again.

Around Christmas, Ivy is offered another job, but it is far from home and night comes early in winter.  The son of the dude ranch owner must accompany her on a ranch horse.  But when the horse is bitten on the nose by a rattlesnake far from town, will Ivy be able to help it?

And for that matter, is Ivy's friendship with Annie finally be over when Annie goes to private school?  And why are Ivy and her dad driving to the airport when no one is expected at the dude ranch?  There are lots of surprises in store for Ivy.

Ivy Takes Care is a very sweet coming of age story.  It reminded me so much of the kinds of novels I loved when I was around 10 years old and I don't think kids taste in fiction has changed that much since then.  And it is sure to please young animal lovers, especially since none of the animals in the story die, and the injuries are not too graphically detailed.  The rift in Ivy's friendship with Annie is, in reality, not uncommon for girls at this age as their interests begins to go in different directions.

There are lots of Jim LaMarche's black and white illustrations throughout the story, which he did with acrylic washes and pencil that provide their own sense of the time period.

Ivy Takes Care is another fine book by Rosemary Wells, an author who consistently really knows how to please her readers.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was provided by the publisher.


  1. Sounds like a great read.. reminds me of my daughter who was ambitious and an animal lover1

  2. Hi Alex, I love Rosemary Wells but have yet to read this one. Another for my 'very long' list!

  3. I love Rosemary Wells. She writes in such a wide range of children's book genres compared to most authors yet every single book of hers seems to be outstanding. I'll look out for this one since I've missed it somehow! Thanks for the review!

  4. I will definitely have to get this book for my daughter. It sounds like something she would love!

    Glad I found your blog via the Kid Lit Blog Hop! I'm now following via BlogLovin'!

    Nicole @ Best Kids' Reads


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