A great many people have said things about the 12 year old maid known as Ivy Pocket. Some believe she’s ‘a foolish girl,’ ‘a devil,’ or even a ‘public menace!’ Of course, people have also been known to call her ‘a lady’s maid of the highest quality,’ and remark that she is, as a rule, generally loved by all. While both of those latter comments were made by Ivy herself, they must be true as she is known for her humble nature….
Anybody But Ivy Pocket and Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket are the first two books in Caleb Krisp’s trilogy for mid-late primary school readers, set in 19th century England (look out for Bring Me the Head of Ivy Pocket, due next year). Ivy is a penniless orphan with an innate ability to get herself into scrapes, but thankfully also has ‘all the natural wisdom of a pot-bellied yogi or, at the very least, a spotted owl.’
We first meet Ivy in Paris where, although she’s just been fired as a lady’s maid and has no friends, no family and no money, everything is going gloriously well. Then she is summoned by the dying Countess of Trinity. The Countess (who is rather rotund and frightfully rude) gives Ivy an incredibly important task – she must deliver the mysterious and possibly dangerous Clock Diamond to an aristocrat named Matilda Butterfield at her twelfth birthday ball. Since it sounds simple enough and comes with a hefty £500 reward, Ivy agrees and sets off back to England. She has no idea what she’s gotten herself in for.
Without giving too much away, readers are in for a wild ride when they settle into Ivy’s misadventures. By the end of Book #2, there have been ghouls and ghosts, birthday-cake-covered aristocrats, bleary bedside poetry recitals and creepy coffin makers with Ivy and the Cock Diamond at the centre of it all.
Ivy Pocket is a rather stubborn character. She sticks to her ways and sometimes cannot see what is simply right in front of her face, so the reader is turning pages furiously, waiting for Ivy to finally realise the truth. This, Krisp says, was intentional but certainly challenging: “a first person narrative that kept the reader several steps ahead of the narrator… is tricky to do, but wonderfully good fun.”
Ivy is also steadfastly loyal, on the rare occasion she finds someone who deserves it – there are many beastly characters that cross her path with nefarious hidden agendas. No matter what, at the end of the day Ivy always believes in herself. It’s wonderful to read about a character who has the utmost faith that she deserves to be happy, who trusts in her own ability to save the day. Ivy Pocket is optimistic, determined, imaginative – and a lot of fun to spend time with.
The author behind these books is still a mystery. We interviewed Caleb Krisp ourselves (click here to read his fiendishly veiled responses) but remain none the wiser as to his real identity. We do know he communicated with illustrator John Kelly via carrier pigeon, writes while trapped in a windowless box, and may or may not have connections to Australia. Okay. We don’t know much afterall.
Krisp’s dark sense of humour makes these books a perfect fit for readers of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and independent readers aged around 8-12 will find themselves occupied with Ivy’s antics for ages. With the short chapters, illustrations and rapid fire plot, the Ivy Pocket series would also be fun to read aloud bit by bit to a primary school class or to a younger reader at bedtime.
Ivy Pocket herself is ‘practically positive’ you will love these books, and although she’s been known to tell a tall tale here or there, in this case, we’re rather inclined to agree with her…
Who is Caleb Krisp?! You can read our interview with him here, maybe you’ll learn more than we know…
You can also download an Ivy Pocket activity pack here, read an extract from Book 1, check out the Teachers’ Notes and more when you visit Ivy on her website (who knew the 19th century had such excellent technology….)