thebookactivist-Logo-01 Ivy Pocket

'Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket' by Caleb Krisp         Age 9+


‘Are you sitting comfortably, dear?  A glass of lemonade at hand? Perhaps a cupcake or two? The time has come to reveal my second thrilling adventure.  I am now the treasured daughter of a pair of wonderfully cuddly coffin-makers.  Yes, they treat me like a maid.  Force me to read hideous poems to the dying. Lock me in my room at night like a prisoner. But isn’t that what all loving parents do?  At least I have a new friend-  Miss Carnage is very willing to help with any little problems. Such as, how do you rescue a girl trapped in another world?  And who is the missing young man my parents refuse to discuss?  And why has the devious Miss Always returned?  And most importantly – what can be done about the stupendous wart on my new mother’s face?’


A fantastic adventure in the Ivy Pocket series, in which mystery abounds and Ivy continues to delight with her eccentricity.  Ivy is now living with a couple who run a funeral home, cleaning from noon till night – when she feels like it – and oddly, having to recite poetry to the dying whilst they’re measured for their coffins by her ‘parents’.  Thankfully, Ivy gets inspiration for the poems from her new found friend, Miss Carnage at the library, so always has something to read aloud when she needs it.  But as you would expect from a story featuring Ivy Pocket, all is not what it seems, and it soon becomes clear the events of the previous adventure are to resurface in quite a worrisome way! The Clock Diamond reveals its true power and the secrets it hides and Ivy is soon in danger.  She takes it all in her stride, adamant that she will rescue her friend Rebecca and save herself from the clutches of the evil Miss Always and her hooded henchmen.  


Ivy Pocket is possibly one of the most unusual heroines I’ve come across in a long while.  She reminds me a little of Pippi Longstocking, with her strong personality and independent approach to life.  Ivy is impossibly thick-skinned and her outrageous comments cause havoc, but never harm.  I often found myself laughing out loud! Her heart is in the right place even if she doesn’t always appear to get it right, which I’m sure is something we all can relate too!  Despite what is obviously quite a difficult life, Ivy doesn’t complain and with her unpredictability, you’re never quite sure what is going to happen next.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters in this story and the fabulous illustrations that bring to life the hilarity of many moments in the plot. Add to this the darker fantasy elements and you have an original story which keeps you guessing and entertained throughout.  


For more info see

‘Tidy’ by Emily Gravett        Age 3+


‘Pete likes everything to be neat and tidy- but sometimes it’s good to know when to stop.’


Award winning author Emily Gravett has written many acclaimed picture books, including Wolves and Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears.  This lovely new story is all about a badger called Pete who is obsessed with keeping the forest tidy!  From making sure each patch of flowers matches, to washing and tidying all the forest animals, even grooming the fox, Pete spends all day and night tidying.  No matter how hard he tries, Pete finds he can never make EVERYTHING tidy and so takes drastic action to keep the forest neat, with disastrous consequences. Will Pete learn the error of his ways and discover that actually, sometimes it’s okay to be a little bit messy?


This is such a fun story.  You can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for Pete ; every time he thinks he’s tidied everything up, something else is in a mess.  Something lots of us can probably relate too – especially mummies!  The idea of a badger hoovering the forest is very funny, and children will enjoy the humour which runs through the whole story.  The illustrations are gorgeous , bringing the enchanting forest and its inhabitants to life.  As Pete goes about his tidying, you can see the animals wondering what on earth he’s going to do next!  With rhyming text, the narrative works brilliantly and just at the end, when Pete thinks the forest is perfectly tidy, he realises that actually, he has made a big mistake!  Thankfully, he sets about making everything right again, with help from his woodland friends.


Tidy is a lovely tale recognising that, even though our hearts are in the right place, we sometimes get it wrong.   Our mistakes may seem huge, but very often with a bit of help, we can make things better.  Tidy is a reminder that we need to look after our beautiful forests & woodlands and it shows that mess, sometimes, is allowed!


This review can also be seen on  For more info see

Tidy bombs

The Bombs that Brought us Together by Brian Conaghan           Age 13+


‘Charlie has always lived in Little Town. It’s home; the curfew, the Regime, the thugs, the poverty. He knows the rules.  The he meets Pavel.  Scrawny and sweary, he is a refugee from Old Country – Little Town’s sworn enemy.  The wrongest person in the whole place to choose as a friend.  But when the bombs come, the rules of little town change.  Country or friend? Trust or betrayal? Future or past?  Right or wrong: Charlie must choose.’


Charlie Law lives with his Mum and Dad in Little Town, a place run by the Regime and gangs of Rascals who patrol the town making the residents lives a misery. There’s no freedom of speech and pretty much no ‘normal’ life, the result being it’s a boring but scary existence. Charlie’s parents are constantly bemoaning the state of things, wishing they were how they used to be. Charlie lives by ten rules he’s made up, to ensure he doesn’t get into trouble.  And until now he’s done okay, spending most of his time dreaming of being Erin F’s boyfriend. The arrival of a new family in the block begins the unravelling of life as Charlie knows it, bringing with it friendship, danger and heartache..  Add to that the bombs and everything turns on its head; Charlie must decide whether his rules still apply and just how he can save his friend, his family and himself.


Sometimes you start reading something and you just know it’s going to be a good. That’s how it was with this book for me.  I just loved Charlie, the hero of the story.  You can instantly ‘hear’ his voice, and ‘see’ who he is. A young teenager caught up in events way out of his control.  There are many parallels that can be drawn with events in today’s world involving conflict and refugees, as well as bullying and choices of morality.  The world the author creates is very real and is at times incredibly uncomfortable, quite fearsome but also downright funny.   Living in a regime oppressed society is so well implied that you can feel the claustrophobia.   The characters surrounding Charlie – his parents, the terrifying ‘rascals’, The Big Man, all echo the fear that is embedded in the plot. The treatment of the new family, and indeed, Charlie, reflects the impact prejudice can have on society. Thankfully what is most inspiring is Charlie, and the lengths he goes to, to protect his friends and family.  Charlie has to face his fears, and find his feet, in a world that is increasingly unstable.  And despite the choices he has to make, ultimately his bravery is rewarded.


For more info see