Ivy’s Ever After by Dawn Lairamore Princess Ivory, who prefers to go by Ivy, is the unconventional princess of the tiny, rural and isolated kingdom of Ardendale. Her nurse and tutor would like her to settle down and learn how to be a proper princess, of course, but her father – always a bit spacey since Ivy’s mother’s death at her birth – insists that she needs time to be a child. So Ivy explores the countryside, makes friends with the servants, and reads just the exciting books in the library. Then she discovers that it’s the ancient law and tradition that the oldest princesses of Ardendale be locked up on their fourteenth birthdays in a special white tower guarded by a dragon, until a prince can kill the dragon. That prince then gets the hand of the princess and the kingship of Ardendale. (The dragon kingdom gets the assurance that only that one dragon in every human generation will be killed.) Ivy, just a few months shy of fourteen, is horrified at the whole business. Things get even worse when the first contestant prince turns up months before her birthday in a bone ship. Prince Romil is a mighty, power-hungry and cruel second son, except that Ivy is the only one who hears his dastardly schemes. In desperation, Ivy sets out to save the kingdom without the help of the adults she’s always counted on. She befriends the peaceful and bookish dragon guarding the tower, Elridge, and the two of them escape to find Ivy’s missing fairy godmother, Drusilla, in hopes of saving the kingdom. On the way, they encounter trolls, fairies, an enchanted swamp, and a crusty Dragon Queen. This is a delightful romp of a fairy tale, perfectly suited to elementary school-aged kids, probably from about 9 years independently and younger as a read-aloud. I also very much enjoyed the second book of Ivy and Elridge, Ivy and the Meanstalk, which as Charlotte rightly points out, adds thoughts on more serious issues to the adventure. This felt very similar to Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, but for a slightly younger audience. If it were only available on audio, I think the Boy would very much enjoy it.
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