Caleb Krisp, Anyone But Ivy Pocket, Bloomsbury, 9 April 2015, 313pp., $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781408858639
It is clear from the start that Ivy Pocket is no ordinary girl. There is nothing shy or retiring about this twelve year old lady’s maid as she boldly forges her way through life in Victorian England offering unwanted solutions, advice and cures to ailments. In her comical and forthright way Ivy takes charge of each situation causing havoc and leaving stunned aristocrats in her wake. She is independent and self-sufficient having been abandoned at an orphanage when she was five. Ivy’s running commentary on everything she experiences is hilarious and the reader is drawn into her madcap adventures and Caleb Krisp’s colourful world of caricatures through her distinctive turns of phrase and irreverent expressions.
It is when the Duchess of Trinity on her deathbed entrusts Ivy with the Clock Diamond that things take a mysterious turn. It is a jewel that has the power of allowing the wearer to see into the past, present and future. Ivy must deliver the stone to Lady Amelia’s spoilt daughter, Matilda, at Butterfield Park but there are many obstacles that prevent this from happening. It soon becomes apparent that Ivy has a close connection to the diamond which gives her amazing powers. She may be the only one who can save the Kingdom of Prospa in a parallel world.
John Kelly’s expressive artwork, the cartoon characters depicted on the end papers together with the many full-page black and white illustrations throughout, complement the text perfectly. A whimsical tale of mystery, murder, betrayal and revenge all told in Ivy’s inimitable style, the novel is humorous and outright funny in places. With 18 fast-paced chapters the story should appeal to 8 to 14 year old readers. The ending leaves the way open for a sequel that may follow Ivy to London and provide answers about her real parents and true identity.
Reviewed by Grace Nolan