Ivy’s Ever After
Holiday House, Inc., (311 pp, $16.95, 2010)
Reviewed by Mark Rigney
There is a land where children go, to fill their minds with castles and kings and queens and rescues and, well, you know. All that stuff. For some, that land comes equipped with polyhedron dice. For seasoned readers ready to dispense with their dice, one can always fall back on Tolkien, Sir Walter Scott, or Le Morte d’Arthur. But what if you happen to be, say, nine years old, and a veteran of second-hand My Pretty Ponies and half-remembered episodes of TV’s greatest fantasia, Sesame Street? The Babysitter’s Club won’t be for you, no, and Swallows and Amazons might be a little dated. Time, then, to sample the gentle charms of Ivy’s Ever After.
Dawn Lairamore has two things on her mind from the get-go. First, she sets out to tell a quite traditional tale set (of course) in a distant, unknown realm where a crisis of succession will soon vault young Princess Ivy into being the only one in the entire kingdom who can save the kingdom entire. Second, she wants to upend the genre just enough to ensure that Ivy actually will be a heroine worthy of a post-Sigourney Weaver world, a heroine who will rely not at all on the hapless men in her life (including her father, the king), and, indeed, not by any male aside from the rather large, winged exception of the dragon set to guard Ivy’s tower.