Parents' Guide to


By Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Dickens-style tale with addiction and thievery.

Ivy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 1 parent review

age 17+

Dull, just dull

This character is sleepy through the entire book because she is addicted to a drug to make her sleepy. This is yet another book that tells a boring tale of an eventual heroine but it takes her a long time to get there. This book also is yet another example of glorifying suicide and questioning whether or not it is the right choice.

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (2 ):

Teen readers may find the Victorian narrative style off-putting until they get into the story, transported to the slums of 19th-century London. Historical fiction fans will relish swindle tricks such as spiffing up old canaries by painting them yellow and boiling wizened oranges to swell them before sale.

Ivy can be a frustratingly passive main character (she's always sleepy from the laudanum), but she shows hints of spunk. Illiterate and unschooled, she creates her own paint color names ("waste-of-time white") since colors such as "burnt sienna" mean nothing to her. Placed in precarious but intentionally ridiculous situations (posed as Eve in a tablecloth stained with food smells to attract a python wrapping itself around her), Ivy relies on common sense to maintain her dignity. In a feminist nod, Ivy rejects being called "spineless" and manages to carve out her own life without being saved by a man.

Book Details

  • Author: Julie Hearn
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Atheneum
  • Publication date: June 17, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 12
  • Number of pages: 355
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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