THE EDUCATION OF IVY BLAKE for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I just had a conversation with a 16-year-old boy who has been in and out of trouble. Big trouble. I used one of my favorite lines: Life can either be a problem or an opportunity. In you I see opportunity. Let’s explore some ways to get your life going the same way.

In THE EDUCATION OF IVY BLAKE,9780399162787 12 year old Ivy is trying to make her life an opportunity while her mom goes from one problem to the next, always pulling Ivy with her. Ivy was first introduced in PRAIRIE EVERS when Ivy moved in with her best friend, Prairie, and her family. This occurred after Ivy’s mom hit the road with a new boyfriend.

If you haven’t read PRAIRIE EVERS, fear not, this is more of a companion book than a sequel. You will understand the dynamics of both girls by the time you hit the last page of Ivy’s story. It begins with Ivy’s mother returning and Ivy goes to live with her. Nothing has changed and things go south real quick. But this time Ivy plans to change herself to become the person she wants to be. Doing so means leaving her best friend and the Evers’ family behind.

This story is about discovering your strengths. It should resonate with girls who are asking the same type of Who Am I?  questions. Short chapters, a fast read, and a very enjoyable ride.


FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) 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.


  1. My wish came true. While reading PRAIRIE EVERS I thought it would be nice to see a story about Ivy. Now I have one to understand this character in a much deeper way.
  2. I have to enjoy a character so much that I’m cheering for him or her to succeed. I need to care. With Ivy, you for sure will be rooting for her to change her fortunes around.
  3. The ending… although it came rather quick after a much more intense ride than Prairies story.
  4. A book about resiliency and seeing what is good in people. We need more of this kind of literature for young minds to soak up.
  5. A rally flag for the arts in schools. Don’t get rid of them because for some kids like Ivy, it is exactly what gives them an optimistic future.

FAVORITE LINE:  In the kitchen, the same dishes were in the sink as when Ivy left and the same bag of bread sat untouched on the counter. Ivy walked slowly down the hall to her mom’s room, letting her fingers trail along the wall the way she did whenever she was in the deep end of a swimming pool.

AUTHOR QUOTE:  (Speaking about Ivy) She’s a great kid, and as ever, she seems like her own person to me.  Someone I helped along in life, but fully her own self, a real spirit out in the world.  She’s been an inspiration to me ever since she first appeared in PRAIRIE EVERS.  She is so optimistic, even when she has every reason not to be, and who can’t take a page out of the that book every now and then?  Bottom line:  she’s hopeful, she’s determined, she’s kind, and she does some cool stuff.

(Read more at Ellen’s Author Web Site)


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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14 Responses to THE EDUCATION OF IVY BLAKE for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Violet Tiger says:

    Sounds really good. I like the plot. Thanks for the review!

  2. Sounds like a great story for girls and adults even asking the question Who Am I? We all ask it at one time or another. Loved what you told the kid who was in trouble too. So true.

  3. Joanne Fritz says:

    I love companion novels because they add to the original story but aren’t dependent on it. And yay for the arts! I fear for students in schools where the arts have been defunded.

  4. Dorine White says:

    I haven’t heard of this one. It sounds like a good one.

  5. cleemckenzie says:

    A lot to like here. The cover. The title. The companion aspect that adds to the first story, and your favorable review–all makes it very enticing.

  6. warrchick says:

    This sounds like a great one for those times when I want a story with more depth. Thanks for the recommend, and happy MMGM!

  7. You are such an excellent teacher. We need more like you! This books reminds me a bit of two I’ve recently read about absent mothers. Kids need stories like this so they know they aren’t alone.

  8. I want to read both these novels now. And I resonate with you on the importance of the arts in education (and in life in general.)

  9. diegosdragon says:

    Reminds me of a news story I heard on the radio this morning. A couple feared the loss of their foster daughter due to extended family wanting her back after four years. What heartbreak for all concerned. I can feel the emotion oozing out of Ivy’s story, and I don’t even have the book. BTW – I’m reading The Blackthorn Key – the first of the five novels I won. It’s great!

  10. Angela says:

    I definitely want to read these too!

  11. I will definitely be checking this one out, Greg. Thanks for the review. It sounds wonderful.

  12. Apropros of nothing- I happen to have a daughter named Ivy and when she was young, her name was very unusual! No book characters! Now they are plentiful. This sounds like a good one. And no, that’s not a pen name for me either, though similar. 🙂
    I love your reviews, Greg. Thanks for posting. Augusta Scattergood

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