Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: Anyone But Ivy Pocket, by Caleb Krisp

When publishers send books to reviewers, they sometimes add a little attention-getter; a bookmark, a postcard, etc. This one came with a letter that tickled me enough that I have to include part of it here:

Esteemed Reader,

To be honest, I am horrified.
Practically bedridden.
Naturally I blame Greenwillow.
Publishing Anyone but Ivy Pocket was their idea. And now they tell me that my literary creation needs help. It is wickedly impertinent! They say I must throw myself at the mercy of the greatest band of blackguards and ne'er-do-wells the world has ever known. I speak, of course, of booksellers, librarians, teachers, and reviewers...

Well, any time someone refers to be as a ne'er-do-well, I feel inclined to like them, and the type of speech here - sort of an aristocrat making fun of aristocracy - is definitely something I enjoy. It puts me in mind of the Incorrigibles series. And causes me to use phrases like "puts me in mind of".

Anyone but Ivy Pocket

Ivy Pocket is a walking disaster, at every turn enraging and appalling the fancy aristocrats she works for. But our protagonist doesn't see herself that way at all. In fact, she's convinced 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 villains, mayhem, and misunderstandings.

The dedication was equally appealing: "For my housekeeper, Mrs. Cuttlefish, who I buried in the garden." Although, that did set off quite a discussion on Facebook, ending with the determination that it should be "whom I buried." Really, Mr. Krisp, one who is writing about a maid with all the natural instincts of a major newspaper editor should know that.

I don't want to give away a single detail of the actual story, I will just say that I found Ivy even more appealing than she finds herself, I found her versions of the truth much more intriguing than the actual truth, and I am very much looking forward to the sequel(s). Barbara Cantini's illustrations are absolutely perfect, and made me think of a cross somehow of Edward Gorey (but with cleaner lines) and Tim Burton, with maybe some David Catrow (think Cinderella Skeleton). I googled her to see what other books she has illustrated, would appear, none! Not in the US, anyway, although she does have some cute items available on Zazzle. Good find, HarperCollins!

This is definitely one to go to the top of your to-order pile if you are a librarian, and one to buy IMMEDIATELY for your quirky young reader - I'd say anyone between 3rd and 8th grade. I have already added Krisp's name to my list of authors whose books I automatically buy. Yes, I enjoyed it that much! After much internal debate, I have decided to add this to the library collection, and buy Sheridan her own copy in a few years - so, it is on our shelves now, and ready to reach, as Mr. Krisp's letter puts it;

"the children who will inevitably fall in love with her."

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