KEEP AN EYE ON IVY
Written and Illustrated by Stéphane Barroux
Thames & Hudson—Nov 2020
32 Pages Age 3+
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Birthdays, Growing Plants, Family
Ivy is the best birthday present EVER . . .
but she needs a lot of attention.
If you take your eye off her for just one minute
you’ll discover she’s a plant with an appetite
for trouble. . .
A terrifically twisty tale with a POP-UP surprise! (from back cover)
“I’m very happy today. That’s because it’s a special day. Today it’s . . .”
Why I like Keep an Eye on Ivy
It’s a young boy’s birthday and he’s excited. He receives lots of gifts from his family, including the cat who holds a small red-wrapped gift, while wearing a party hat identical to the boy’s red and yellow striped hat. But the best, his favorite gift, comes from his sister Susie. Susie gives him a plant. The boy without a name calls the plant Ivy, since she is an ivy. He must care for her daily, so when he cannot, he asks someone in his family to care for Ivy while he is busy or gone.
Children will like these conversations the boy has with each member of his family. He doesn’t want to ask the same person over and over, but he has enough family to ask for a week. So on Monday, he asks his sister, Susie. The conversation is as follows:
“Hey, Susie! Where’s the cat?”
“Don’t ask me! He must be outside, chasing mice.”
“Oh, that makes sense. It’s Monday, so I have to go to judo class. Will you keep an eye on Ivy?”
On Tuesday, the boy is going out. Grandpa is now in the living room with an electric train set all over the floor. He holds a train car in his hand when the boy asks,
“Hi, Grandpa! Have you seen the cat? And where’s Susie? I can’t find her either.”
“Well, it’s Tuesday, so your sister must be at her music lesson.”
“Oh, that makes sense. I’ve go to go out now. Will you keep an eye on Ivy?”
And so it goes. On Wednesday the boy asks Grandma, then Dad on Thursday, and Mom on Friday. On Saturday the boy is in the living room with Ivy. No one else is around. The boy asks Ivy if she knows where they could be, (using the formula above). She does answer him and he finds everyone. Oddly, no one knows where they are, but that adds to the humor of this extremely funny picture book.
Children will love Keep an Eye on Ivy. Older kids might figure out that Ivy is not an ivy, but that is all part of the fun. The repetition of the questions the boy asks and the answers he gets will have children reading along in no time, if not by themselves. Keep an Eye on Ivy will become your child’s favorite book. They will carrying the book around—just in case they need a story—and will also tell everyone about the funny Ivy.
The art significantly adds to the story of Ivy’s growth and where the family members have each gone. The pages are colorful on the boy’s birthday and the days after, but slowly the spreads turn greener as Ivy grows, and grows, and grows—a lot! She becomes so large, HUGE really, that she must lay her head on the floor to listen to her boy speak. (Ivy looks very much like a green Pac-Man.) She doesn’t really look like ivy (to me, anyway), but the boy thinks so, hence he names her Ivy (how he knows Ivy is a girl is beyond me). Ivy or not ivy, Ivy certainly grows like ivy. Each spread represents the next day and each is greener than the day before. Eventually, Ivy fills the spread and a light green shadow (?) covers the family, including the cat, as they sit together on the living room floor (except the cat who is perched on one of Ivy’s overgrown vines).
The promised pop-up surprise will delight children. After the initial surprise, I found it fun to simply play with the pop-up. It looks like it is moving toward me when I opened and closed the right page. Kids will love this. You must believe me, since I won’t say what the surprise pop-up looks like. But it’s great! That is not the end of the story, as I thought it was. There are two final spreads, both of which will make you laugh. Keep an Eye on Ivy will entertain young children for hours, so make sure you explain that pop-ups can break.
If you want a humorous story, made for the family, and a sure hit with your children you need to pick up Keep an Eye on Ivy. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your eye on Ivy. Her biting humor makes this “Best Book” a wonderful gift for the holidays.
I LOVE the last spread, but won’t say a word. Instead, I also love the spread where Ivy listens to her boy talk. She has become so large her head must rest on the floor to be eye-to-eye with her boy. Even then, she is larger than the boy. I wish he had a name rather than being “the boy,” but without a name any child can substitute their own name and make the story about themselves and an overgrown Ivy. I think I’m going to read Keep an Eye on Ivy one more time.
Illustrations Rendered in acrylic shades of green, pen, and pencil shading.
To Learn More About the Author/Illustrator Stéphane Barroux: Short Bio
Available at Amazon: Keep an Eye on Ivy (can see art)
KEEP AN EYE ON IVY. Copyright © 2019, 2020 by Stéphane Barroux. Published by Thames & Hudson, New York, NY.
Originally Published © 2019 by Editions su Seuil, Paris, France.
Translated from French to English © by Thames & Hudson, Inc.
Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[737—word count-review only]
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