Wells’s quiet period piece is set in 1949 on a ranch near Reno, Nev., where almost-sixth-grader Ivy’s parents work. Ivy’s deep compassion for animals spurs her to offer herself as caretaker for pets and farm animals while their owners are away; her experiences inspire her aspirations to become a veterinarian. Effectively structured in three sections, each focusing on Ivy’s relationship with a different animal, the story proceeds chronologically and developmentally as Ivy faces crises with her charges—often caused by “nothing but trouble” Billy Joe, her careless companion and the ranch owners’ son—and grapples with middle-grade friendship problems. Secondary characters perform reliably: Dr. Rinaldi, the local vet, is always on hand for emergencies and career advice; Ivy’s hardworking parents stand by her; and the strangers who hire her are kind and sympathetic. Animal lovers will feast on the details Wells (Following Grandfather) includes and envy Ivy’s opportunities to lavish her care on dogs, horses, and even a new litter of fox kits; all will be quickly won over by her good nature, determination, confidence and loyalty. Art not seen by PW. Ages 8–11. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/17/2012 Release date: 02/12/2013 Genre: Children's
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