Ivy Takes Care
Written by Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Despite some incredibly exciting passages, this book was written about a quieter time and place. It has a lot to say about responsibility and following your dreams.
Ivy lives on a 1949 Nevada ranch, where the guests are all people awaiting divorce decrees. Her one true love is animals. Her best friend is away for the entire summer vacation at a fancy camp in the East, so Ivy’s only companion is the incredibly annoying and irresponsible Billy Joe, son of the ranch’s maid. When the local vet encourages her to work toward becoming a vet herself, Ivy realizes she’ll have to save for college. She starts looking for jobs taking care of animals. Her first assignment is to care for a horse while the owner vacations. She discovers a mother fox in the barn and attempts to help her. Of course, Billy Joe learns about the fox and wants to kill her for her pelt. Next, Ivy and Billy Joe help a ranch resident train a puppy. Billy Joe lets out the prized German shepherd, who is attracted to a porcupine. Last, Ivy encounters a blind former jockey and a thoroughbred at a local ranch. Written as three short stories which could be read separately, the text nevertheless holds together well. LaMarche’s gorgeous and realistic drawings of Ivy and her animal friends help make this a winner.
The fourth grade reader will particularly enjoy the excitement caused by Billy Joe’s rattlesnake hunting. The text would fit in well with reading activities related to the American West and the era following World War II or even pet care.