Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 15
- Grade: 5 to 6
- Reading age: 12 to 15
Commended for the 2011 Best Books for Kids and Teens
Living in grim Depression-era Toronto with her actress mother, Frannie, Ivy Chalmers has never met her father. In 1931, Frannie sends twelve-year-old Ivy to stay with her paternal grandmother in Larkin, Ontario, while she seeks stardom in New York City. When Ivy’s father, Alva, arrives unexpectedly in Larkin, he turns out not to be the Prince Charming she imagined, but an illiterate peddler. Rescuing Ivy from her uncompromising grandmother, Alva takes her with him for the summer, wandering the countryside by horse-drawn caravan, selling shoes.
Back in Larkin at summer’s end, Ivy meets teenager Charlie Bayliss, orphaned as an infant and raised by his aunt on a farm outside town. Ivy has a flair for writing and boundless imagination, while Charlie loves baseball and loathes farming. Unknown to both of them, though, is a secret connection they share. When the final pieces of the puzzle of their lives fall into place, nothing will ever be the same.
About the author
Peggy Dymond Leavey was born in Toronto, the second in a family of five children. Her father was in the RCAF, and while Peggy was growing up in the 40s and 50s, the family was often on the move. Peggy began writing as a child and has since published poems, articles and plays for both adults and children. She has collaborated on three books of local history and has done freelance writing. Her book The Movie Years, published in 1989, details the years 1917-1934 when Trenton, Ontario was Canada’s filmmaking capital. Her first novel for children, Help Wanted: Wednesdays Only, published in 1994 by Napoleon, has been published in French as Un Petit Boulot du Mercredi. A Circle in Time was published in 1994, also by Napoleon. Her third book, Sky Lake Summer, published in 1999, was nominated for a Silver Birch Award and a Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award. It has also been chosen for the Accelerated Reading Program in the U.S. Peggy’s first teen novel, Finding My Own Way, was published by Napoleon in the fall of 2001. It was followed by another junior novel, The Deep End Gang, in 2003, which was an honour finalist for the Silver Birch Award. The Path Through the Trees (2005) was also a Silver Birch finalist. Her latest novel is Treasure at Turtle Lake (2007). The sequel, Trouble at Turtle Narrows, will be released in the fall of 2008. Today, Peggy lives near Trenton, Ontario. She and her husband have three grown children and eight grandchildren. She works part-time as a librarian, keeping her mornings free to write.
- Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens
Ivy is a convincing character, strong though damaged, and depicted without sentimentality. The Depression-era setting is similarly convincing, crisp in its particulars. Ivy eventually connects with her father, and they spend the summer on the road together in a caravan, peddling shoes. The cumulative portrait of rural Ontario that emerges from this doomed enterprise feels like the real deal.
Quill & Quire
Peggy Dymond Leavey has written an engaging and moving story of a likable, imaginative girl. I kept reading late into the night, empathizing with Ivy and wanting to know what happened next. The realities of the Great Depression are brought to life with authentic, well-researched details.
Leavey deserves congratulations for recognizing the gem of a good story when she came across it, and praise for making something of it.
Ivy is not the only wonderful character in this fine book, but this is definitely her story. The writing is commendable, the characters lively and likeable, the setting strong and the sense of community vibrant. I read late into the night wanting to know what would happen to these people that I had come to like so much. I enjoyed every page and recommend it highly. It would make a great read in an intermediate classroom and is certain to encourage discussion of the hard times that so many faced in the 1930s.
Sal's Fiction Addiction
Setting in small-town Ontario during the Great Depression, Growing Up Ivy is a nice story for readers from Grade 6.
Growing Up IvyDuring the summer of 1931, Ivy Chalmers is sent to stay with her paternal grandmother in Larkin, Ontario, so her mother can pursue an acting career in New York City. Ivy’s estranged father, Alva, arrives unexpectedly, but is no Prince Charming — rather, he’s an illiterate peddler. Ivy befriends Charlie Bayliss, but, unbeknownst to both of them, they share a secret connection.
Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.
Other titles by Peggy Dymond Leavey
Canadian Cultural Heritage 4-Book Bundle
Molly Brant / Louis Riel / Harriet Tubman / Simon Girty
Mohawk Loyalist and Diplomat
Canadian Performing Arts Bundle
Emma Albani / John Grierson / Mary Pickford
Quest Biographies Bundle — Books 21–30
Louis Riel / James Wilson Morrice / Vilhjalmur Stefansson / Robertson Davies / James Douglas / William C. Van Horne / George Simpson / Tom Thomson / Simon Girty / Mary Pickford
Quest Biographies Bundle — Books 31–35
Harriet Tubman / Laura Secord / Joey Smallwood / Prince Edward, Duke of Kent / John A. Macdonald
Quest Biographies Bundle — Books 26–30
William C. Van Horne / George Simpson / Tom Thomson / Simon Girty / Mary Pickford
Heroine of the War of 1812
Canada’s Silent Siren, America’s Sweetheart