Sunday, April 14, 2013

Books for Younger Readers

Wells, Rosemary. Ivy Takes Care.
12 February 2013, Candlewick Press
Copy received from Young Adults Book Central and reviewed there.

Ivy lives on a dude ranch in Nevada in 1949. Her parents work on the ranch, and money is tight for the family. Ivy tries to keep up with her friend Annie in fashions, but it's hard.When Annie goes off to a ritzy summer camp, Ivy feels that she should send her a friendship ring. To earn the money, she decides to get a job, and since she works well with animals, she posts an ad for her services. Her first job is taking care of a horse while the owners are on vacation. The owner of the ranch has a son, Billy Joe,  who likes to follow Ivy around, and she eventually lets him help her. Ivy also cares for a dog that a client of the ranch has to leave for a while when he returns home, and for another horse. Caring for the animals can be dangerous, and Ivy encounters problems with porcupines and snakes. The local vet tells Ivy that she has a talent for caring for animals, so she talks to her parents and decides to start saving money so that perhaps some day, she can go to college.
Strengths: This is a lovely, gentle book about animals and about the challenges faced by the rigors of life at this time in Nevada. I knew that this state was a place that people wanting divorces would stay, but hadn't thought about the people working at these ranches. Period details abound-- a ring costs $5 and Ivy gets 50 cents a day for caring for animals, Italian leather shoes are an article of envy, interest in movies and movie stars is addressed. Of course, the big draw is Ivy's experience in caring for animals. This would be an excellent choice for readers who like Henry's Misty of Chincoteague.
Weaknesses: It took me a while to realize that this was, in fact, set in 1949. I wish it had been mentioned in the book description. Also, this seems a bit too young for middle school, so I may send my copy on to the elementary school, where I think it will get more use.

Lulu and the Duck in the Park McKay, Hilary. Lulu and the Duck in the Park.
1 September 2012, Albert Whitman & Company

Saw this one recommended enough times that I had to read it. This reminded me quite a bit of Carolyn Heywood's Betsy books, for some reason. Simple but intriguing story, some nice pictures, engaging main character. Definitely in the emerging reader category, so kindergarten through 2nd or 3rd grade. Nice that the main character is a little girl of color, and that this is a series. Liked her more than Junie B. Jones!

From the Publisher:
"Lulu loves animals. When Lulu finds a duck egg that has rolled out of its nest, she takes it to class to keep it safe. Lulu isn't allowed to bring pets to school. But she's not really breaking the rules because it's just an egg. Surely nothing bad will happen... A fun-filled new series for early readers and animal lovers alike."

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