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The Education of Ivy Blake

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In this uplifting companion to Prairie Evers, shy, introverted Ivy must find her footing when her reckless mom turns her world upside down.   Ivy has loved living with her best friend, Prairie, and being part of Prairie’s lively, happy family. But now Ivy’s mom has decided to take her back. Ivy tries to pretend everything is fine, but her mom’s neglect and embarrassing publi In this uplifting companion to Prairie Evers, shy, introverted Ivy must find her footing when her reckless mom turns her world upside down.   Ivy has loved living with her best friend, Prairie, and being part of Prairie’s lively, happy family. But now Ivy’s mom has decided to take her back. Ivy tries to pretend everything is fine, but her mom’s neglect and embarrassing public tantrums often make Ivy feel ashamed and alone. Fortunately, Ivy is able to find solace in art, in movies, and from the pleasure she finds in observing and appreciating life’s small, beautiful moments. And when things with her mom reach the tipping point, this ability gives her the strength and power to push on and shape her own future.


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In this uplifting companion to Prairie Evers, shy, introverted Ivy must find her footing when her reckless mom turns her world upside down.   Ivy has loved living with her best friend, Prairie, and being part of Prairie’s lively, happy family. But now Ivy’s mom has decided to take her back. Ivy tries to pretend everything is fine, but her mom’s neglect and embarrassing publi In this uplifting companion to Prairie Evers, shy, introverted Ivy must find her footing when her reckless mom turns her world upside down.   Ivy has loved living with her best friend, Prairie, and being part of Prairie’s lively, happy family. But now Ivy’s mom has decided to take her back. Ivy tries to pretend everything is fine, but her mom’s neglect and embarrassing public tantrums often make Ivy feel ashamed and alone. Fortunately, Ivy is able to find solace in art, in movies, and from the pleasure she finds in observing and appreciating life’s small, beautiful moments. And when things with her mom reach the tipping point, this ability gives her the strength and power to push on and shape her own future.

30 review for The Education of Ivy Blake

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    OMG this book... From the very start, I was hooked. Lately it seems like I never have time to read, and when I do, I find the books boring me and I set them aside. Seriously, I have 30 books on my "currently reading" list. And the ones I've finished have taken months. This one took me three days. It was SO, SO good. Ivy captured my heart from the beginning, and even when she was being incredibly dense & frustrating, you understood why she'd make those choices. She grabbed my heart and didn't l OMG this book... From the very start, I was hooked. Lately it seems like I never have time to read, and when I do, I find the books boring me and I set them aside. Seriously, I have 30 books on my "currently reading" list. And the ones I've finished have taken months. This one took me three days. It was SO, SO good. Ivy captured my heart from the beginning, and even when she was being incredibly dense & frustrating, you understood why she'd make those choices. She grabbed my heart and didn't let go. The voice, the atmosphere, and Ivy's quiet strength were captivating and refreshing. Loved it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie A.

    I haven't read the first book, but Ivy's voice was so irresistibly charming in the excerpt on the back that I couldn't wait. And that charmed feeling stayed with me, cover to cover. The writing was so evocative -- particularly chapter 7, "New Schedule," in which Ivy details her entirely lonely day after school, taking responsibility for her own care until her mom comes home from work at 11:30. My heart ached in the best possible way as she talked about studiously doing her homework while pretend I haven't read the first book, but Ivy's voice was so irresistibly charming in the excerpt on the back that I couldn't wait. And that charmed feeling stayed with me, cover to cover. The writing was so evocative -- particularly chapter 7, "New Schedule," in which Ivy details her entirely lonely day after school, taking responsibility for her own care until her mom comes home from work at 11:30. My heart ached in the best possible way as she talked about studiously doing her homework while pretending her mom was just in the next room, lighting a candle and making macaroni and cheese to evoke scents that remind her of the Evers household, and trying to put herself to bed on time despite the scary sounds of night. Another great chapter is the one where she randomly gets on a bus and finds herself wandering around on a college campus for a couple of hours, the setting a romantic and idealized future dream for a 10/11-year-old. I loved her friendship with Prairie and the other Evers folks, a homestead so warm that I am definitely going to go back to read the first book now. There are hints of things that happened in said book that I'm interested to find out more about, but if you have read that one, it must be cool that now you can see more of what Ivy was thinking. I also cried at least once because I so, so understand unintentionally punishing yourself and withdrawing to deal with things on your own because you don't want to be a burden or intrude on a happy life that isn't rightfully yours to enjoy. I would totally be the girl trudging back to live with Mom because it's my duty, and I must accept my lot in life. That said, even though her home life isn't a great situation, I never got the sense that Ivy's mother didn't love her. She just seemed like she became a mom too young to be good at it, and it also seemed like mental illness might be in play, given the manic bursts and unusual impulsiveness. I felt sorry for both of them. (OK, maybe a little less sorry for the mother who kept getting justifiably visited by police for harassment and vandalism.) As for the ending, (view spoiler)[I actually gasped alongside Ivy when she realized that for her new foster home, she was going to get to stay in the very house she'd often admired from the street and idealized as a comforting home. Complete with a turret bedroom!! I'd have a hard time deciding between that and going back with Prairie myself. But even though part of me is like WHY WOULDN'T YOU LIVE WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND and is worried that they're going to drift apart in high school or even the latter half of middle school, maybe it's also true that if they'd continued to live together, a few years down the road they would have started to fight more in the manner of real sisters and it would DRIVE them apart, and then where would Ivy go? (hide spoiler)] All in all, one of the best children's books I've seen in a while. The way I know that it's truly good is that I want to keep thinking about the characters growing up and what their lives will be like in the future -- I am this close to making up fan fiction here. The chapters are so nice and brief that I feel like you could easily write a short story or two and slip them in.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily Smith

    JFIC

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Despite so many odds stacked against her, this sweet character perseveres. So many of our kids will see themselves in Ivy Blake.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I definitely need to have a talk with the folks at Penguin Young Readers. Why do they keep picking books to highlight through their Author Live Chats that make me cry? (This and others such as The Secret Hum of a Daisy, Nightingale's Nest, and The War that Saved My Life have all made me keep the tissues close.) Actually Penguin can't take all the blame, because a friend had already recommended Prairie Evers, which is the book that first introduces the character of Ivy Blake. Why all the tears? Be I definitely need to have a talk with the folks at Penguin Young Readers. Why do they keep picking books to highlight through their Author Live Chats that make me cry? (This and others such as The Secret Hum of a Daisy, Nightingale's Nest, and The War that Saved My Life have all made me keep the tissues close.) Actually Penguin can't take all the blame, because a friend had already recommended Prairie Evers, which is the book that first introduces the character of Ivy Blake. Why all the tears? Because Ivy's life is a mess, or her mother is anyway. Ivy has been living with Prairie's family, but her mother shows up and wants Ivy to come back to live with her in the rental house she has found. Even though she would rather stay with the Evers family, Ivy decides it is the right thing to give her mother a chance. As you might guess from the crying, things do not go well. The police come to the house several times, Prairie gets her feelings hurt because Ivy is hiding things (ashamed of the trouble her mother is in), and Ivy begins to feel hopeless. But this is not a depressing book, there are just sad parts. As Grammy Evers knows, Ivy is determined and curious, good at waiting, independent, a survivor - just like the heron Grandmother nicknames her for in Cherokee, "Knasgowa." And there are more people than just the Evers who care about her; some are kids and some are adults, but when Ivy finally realizes what she wants to do, they all pull together for her. This is a wonderful story of resilience, of trying to see the best in people, of rising above your circumstances, and of following your dreams. It shows the power of friendship and love. For readers who enjoy realistic fiction, perhaps books like Faith and Hope and Ivy June, this is a title they should try. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Aspiring movie director Ivy Blake sees the world through a lens. Through her lens she sees the foster family and farm she has grown to love and find comfort in. She sees her mother return from time spent in prison and opts to leave the Ever's family and move back in with her mother. Ivy's lens begins to crack as she is forced to change schools and her mother grows increasingly unstable. But Ivy is resilient and her time with the Ever's family and particularly the wisdom garnered from Grandma Eve Aspiring movie director Ivy Blake sees the world through a lens. Through her lens she sees the foster family and farm she has grown to love and find comfort in. She sees her mother return from time spent in prison and opts to leave the Ever's family and move back in with her mother. Ivy's lens begins to crack as she is forced to change schools and her mother grows increasingly unstable. But Ivy is resilient and her time with the Ever's family and particularly the wisdom garnered from Grandma Evers come to her aid as she sets out to make her first movie, with a little help from some new and wonderful friends. This is an inspiring story of courage, friendship, and resourcefulness. Ivy Blake's strength and determination will stick with readers long after the final page.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Ivy hs been staying with her best friend's family for a while, but now her mom is in a different situation and wants to take her back. Ivy gives it a go, but her mother's temper is horrible and gets her in trouble. Ivy and Prairie's (her best friend) suffers because Ivy does not want her to know how bad things are. Great characters in this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    MinaG

    This was a very compelling book. I tried to sneak in a page or two whenever I could, it was so interesting! I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a good story about how things aren't always easy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Walsh

    Loved everything about this and Prairie Evers!!! Two great books for my 6th graders.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Robb

    3.5 stars/5 stars. I did not read "Prairie Evers" to which this book is apparently a companion book. (Also, although I got this book from the local library book sale shelf, it is marked as Advanced Uncorrected Galleys.) There's a lot that goes unexplained in this book (for an adult reader anyway) that maybe has been covered in Prairie Evers. Ivy's living situation for example--she starts out living with the Evers family (and seems to be enjoying it) but then her mom pops back into her life to se 3.5 stars/5 stars. I did not read "Prairie Evers" to which this book is apparently a companion book. (Also, although I got this book from the local library book sale shelf, it is marked as Advanced Uncorrected Galleys.) There's a lot that goes unexplained in this book (for an adult reader anyway) that maybe has been covered in Prairie Evers. Ivy's living situation for example--she starts out living with the Evers family (and seems to be enjoying it) but then her mom pops back into her life to see if she wants to come live with her. I would have thought that for Ivy to be living with a friend's family there would have been a court order or child/family services involvement--that it wouldn't have been so easy for her mom to reclaim her. Ivy seems to feel that she has to conceal how she feels. Maybe it's a learned reaction from they way her mother responds to life? She doesn't want to be a burden to the Evers family so instead of telling them about life with her mother, she distances herself from them. Instead of going back to them, she allows the social worker to place her with Beryl (which doesn't turn out to be a bad thing). And again, a second time, Ivy's mother just shows up expecting Ivy to go with her--but this time child/family services was definitely involved so . . . I can't believe it would just be so easy as to show up and take Ivy. I'm glad Ivy stood up for herself and to her mom and decided to live her best life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aleta

    I was excited to read this, since I LOVED Prairie Evers, and this was a good book. Though I didn't it enjoy as much as Prairie Evers, I enjoyed Ivy's personality, and how she dealt with her problems in life. This book takes a slightly more serious tone, because of Ivy's abusive/unstable mother. I felt a bit disappointed, because this book left out some of my favorite elements of Prairie Evers, like the farming aspects, and the plucky attitude Prairie brought to the first book. It was definitely I was excited to read this, since I LOVED Prairie Evers, and this was a good book. Though I didn't it enjoy as much as Prairie Evers, I enjoyed Ivy's personality, and how she dealt with her problems in life. This book takes a slightly more serious tone, because of Ivy's abusive/unstable mother. I felt a bit disappointed, because this book left out some of my favorite elements of Prairie Evers, like the farming aspects, and the plucky attitude Prairie brought to the first book. It was definitely worth the read though.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Parental warning: This book is a bit darker than Prairie Evers, considering Ivy's home life. Although to me, the choice to move back with her mom seems ridiculous, having friends who were in similar situations, I know it's actually a very realistic choice. And there is a bit of language, like "Sh--t," "Shee-it," and For God's Sake. I'm disappointed how little Prairie actually appears, and I didn't necessarily care for Ivy's choice at the end regarding where she lives. I quite like Jacob and wish Parental warning: This book is a bit darker than Prairie Evers, considering Ivy's home life. Although to me, the choice to move back with her mom seems ridiculous, having friends who were in similar situations, I know it's actually a very realistic choice. And there is a bit of language, like "Sh--t," "Shee-it," and For God's Sake. I'm disappointed how little Prairie actually appears, and I didn't necessarily care for Ivy's choice at the end regarding where she lives. I quite like Jacob and wish he had a larger role in the book, same with Tate. Overall, good story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aleeyah

    This book is mostly about a girl named Ivy Blake, she lived with her friend most of her life and now she is living with her mom. Her friend moved somewhere else and now when she wants to talk to her she has to call her. I once had a best friend that moved to Arizona, I was so sad. I went to her house all the time. It kinda felt like my second house, but I never lived there.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Steve

    That book was rough to read. I liked it, but I kept wishing for different things to happen to and for Ivy - she really deserved a break. However, the story was more realistic the way it was written - some kids unfortunately have parents who are less capable/willing than others. I love Ivy for the way she dealt with losing the parent lottery.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah Bell

    This book had the bones of something extraordinary, but it was flesh less. It read like an outline or first draft of something brilliant...but part of the issue could be that I read it without reading the prequel.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chapter

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. COPIED: Ivy has loved living with her best friend, Prairie, and being part of Prairie’s lively, happy family. But now Ivy’s mom has decided to take her back. Ivy tries to pretend everything is fine, but her mom’s neglect and embarrassing public tantrums often make Ivy feel ashamed and alone.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This was a quick YA read. I highly recommend for kids maybe 12 and up. It is the story of a 12 year old girl named Ivy with an interesting, complicated upbringing. She learns about being her true self with dreams and never to give up.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    This book felt less focused than Prairie Evers, which I didn't like (I like a focused story!), but I liked how the story felt so different and so connected. It suited Ivy, just like Prairie's book suited her. I appreciated the happy and hopeful ending, too.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Myers

    I loved this book! ❤ I loved this book! ❤️

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Plucky girl with believable story line and character development.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Such a beautiful book about the power of overcoming family situations and children in foster care. The main character is so uplifting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lori June

    excellent companion to Prairie Evers... love the girls and appreciate the bluntness but honesty in their friendships.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    I want to put Ivy in my pocket and be her friend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julie Williams

    When I got this book from the library to review for the Maine Student Book Award, I did not know it was considered a companion to the author's previous book Prairie Evers. Prairie Evers was on the MSBA list in 2013 - 2014. That was my first year on the committee. I was so furiously reading new books for the next year's list that I was unable to read all the books on that year's list. Follow??? I never got a chance to read Prairie Evers. All that to say - I feel like this book was able to stand o When I got this book from the library to review for the Maine Student Book Award, I did not know it was considered a companion to the author's previous book Prairie Evers. Prairie Evers was on the MSBA list in 2013 - 2014. That was my first year on the committee. I was so furiously reading new books for the next year's list that I was unable to read all the books on that year's list. Follow??? I never got a chance to read Prairie Evers. All that to say - I feel like this book was able to stand on its own. In this book Ivy, who has been living with the Evers - mom, dad, Prairie, grandma - is faced with a new dilemma. Her mom shows up and wants Ivy to come live with her again. Ivy is torn between her love for her mom and her hope that things will turn around and her love for the Evers family. Because she feels like she is a burden and because the Evers are expecting a new baby, Ivy decides to try things out with her mom again. But that means a new school, a new home, and limited time with Prairie. When things start to deteriorate with her mom Ivy has to decide if she will give up on herseelf and who she can really trust. This was really good. Ivy could have listened to the voices (mostly mom) telling her she would never amount to anything but instead she chose to be courageous. In the end she made some difficult choices but found a place to belong. Quite a good book (now I may need to read Prairie Evers as well).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Round Lake Area Public Library

    4.5/5 stars (rounded up) Fifth grade Ivy’s world is turned upside down when she goes back to living with her mother after years apart. Ivy misses the stable home she had with her best friend’s family, and struggles with her mother’s inconsistent behavior and fits of anger. Adjusting to a new school and making friends would be hard enough, but Ivy also has to deal with being alone and taking care of herself while her mother is at work or out with her friends. How will Ivy get through this? Can her 4.5/5 stars (rounded up) Fifth grade Ivy’s world is turned upside down when she goes back to living with her mother after years apart. Ivy misses the stable home she had with her best friend’s family, and struggles with her mother’s inconsistent behavior and fits of anger. Adjusting to a new school and making friends would be hard enough, but Ivy also has to deal with being alone and taking care of herself while her mother is at work or out with her friends. How will Ivy get through this? Can her creativity and artistic talent carry her through this rocky time in her life? While The Education of Ivy Blake was written as a companion to the book, Prairie Evers, it reads like a stand-alone novel, and readers will not miss a beat even if they haven’t read Ellen Airgood’s first novel in this series (although they may want to go back and read it after finishing this one!) This novel was gentle but interesting: Ivy was likeable and sweet, but realistic. Although the book touches on sensitive topics, it is never too dark, and always offers hope and speaks to the kindness and generosity of friends and strangers. Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone middle school age or older who is looking for a positive and encouraging realistic fiction novel.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    The Education of Ivy Blake is a companion novel to Prairie Evers. Both books are middle grade realistic fiction. Both are slightly bittersweet, think Because of Winn Dixie. I enjoyed the Education of Ivy Blake very much. Since Ivy's mother killed her husband--Ivy's father--she hasn't been the same...at least not in her daughter's eyes. Even her "good days" are strains and stretches. It seems her mother is incapable of being happy, of being content, of being consistent, of being stable. Ivy could The Education of Ivy Blake is a companion novel to Prairie Evers. Both books are middle grade realistic fiction. Both are slightly bittersweet, think Because of Winn Dixie. I enjoyed the Education of Ivy Blake very much. Since Ivy's mother killed her husband--Ivy's father--she hasn't been the same...at least not in her daughter's eyes. Even her "good days" are strains and stretches. It seems her mother is incapable of being happy, of being content, of being consistent, of being stable. Ivy could cope with her distant, weird mother for the most part since they were living with an aunt. But now that the aunt has died, and it's just the two of them, living with her mom has been impossible. For a while, Ivy found relief and protection by living with the Evers. Her mom wanted to leave her behind, being so newly in love and eager for a new beginning. But now that her mom's love life has soured, she wants Ivy back so she can start a new new life in yet another new town. Ivy doesn't trust her mom, but, her mom is her mom is her mom is her mom. Ivy's loyal. Ivy's brave. Somehow Ivy will make her life beautiful and purposeful. Ivy is a great character. This book is emotional, but not overly DRAMATIC.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gabby Williamson

    I thought the book was okay. I think the began was a little slow and also kinda confusing. Then it got better like the middle of the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    McGuffy Morris

    This heartfelt middle-school novel is the companion to Prairie Evers. In the original book, we met Prairie Evers and her wonderful family. They lived on a farm in the country. Ivy was new to Prairie’s school, but they became very close friends. Due to her own family situation, Ivy eventually went to live with the Evers’ family. Now, Ivy has been reunited with her mother. They have moved back to the city where they hope to start a new life together. Ivy struggles to maintain her friendship with Pr This heartfelt middle-school novel is the companion to Prairie Evers. In the original book, we met Prairie Evers and her wonderful family. They lived on a farm in the country. Ivy was new to Prairie’s school, but they became very close friends. Due to her own family situation, Ivy eventually went to live with the Evers’ family. Now, Ivy has been reunited with her mother. They have moved back to the city where they hope to start a new life together. Ivy struggles to maintain her friendship with Prairie though long distance phone talks and weekend sleepovers. As she begins to get settled into her new school, she does make new friends, though. Her artwork seems to be taking a new exciting direction, too. However, to her shock and disappointment, Ivy realizes that her mother has not changed. In fact, her irrational behavior, impulsiveness, and immaturity present very serious problems for both of them. As things change again for Ivy, she learns lasting lessons about friends, family, love, and above all: herself. Ivy Blake is a hero for all ages. I think that author Ellen Airgood may be, too.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    I really enjoyed this book. I didn't realize this was a sequel of sorts to Prairie Evers (which I haven't read). I don't often dip my toe in realistic fiction but I thought this novel was great for young readers. The author does a wonderful job turning small phrases into something poetic and profound. This is a book that I can see being a great family read-aloud due to the complex emotional battles that Ivy (main character) experiences throughout the novel. While an enjoyable quick read, I found I really enjoyed this book. I didn't realize this was a sequel of sorts to Prairie Evers (which I haven't read). I don't often dip my toe in realistic fiction but I thought this novel was great for young readers. The author does a wonderful job turning small phrases into something poetic and profound. This is a book that I can see being a great family read-aloud due to the complex emotional battles that Ivy (main character) experiences throughout the novel. While an enjoyable quick read, I found I never had a great grip on how the progression of time worked. At times it feels like you just got snips of Ivy's life. However, these moments shine in both brutal honesty and the power of family. This was a book I just randomly picked off my library shelf and it was a great find. If you are looking for a book that proves that family is one of the strongest bonds and does not just come from blood, this is a great personal story for you. Now I have to read the first one!

  30. 4 out of 5

    High Plains Library District

    The Education of Ivy Blake By Ellen Airgood In author Ellen Airgood’s first book, Prairie Evers, we fell in love with this homeschooled girl and followed her as she was sent off to public school. We suffered through the changes in her life and rejoiced with her as she found a best friend in Ivy Blake. Now, in Airgood’s second book, we learn more about Ivy Blake. We commiserate with Ivy when her troubled mother comes back for her and cheer Ivy on as she struggles to find herself and what is right f The Education of Ivy Blake By Ellen Airgood In author Ellen Airgood’s first book, Prairie Evers, we fell in love with this homeschooled girl and followed her as she was sent off to public school. We suffered through the changes in her life and rejoiced with her as she found a best friend in Ivy Blake. Now, in Airgood’s second book, we learn more about Ivy Blake. We commiserate with Ivy when her troubled mother comes back for her and cheer Ivy on as she struggles to find herself and what is right for her life. This 2-book series will touch the heart of 11 & 12 year old girls as they, inevitably, go through those times of finding out who they really are, who their friends are and how to cope with all of it. Great reads for 4th and 5th grade girls. ~Jan

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