Saturday, September 26, 2009

FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE is about two girls from totally different places and backgrounds who participate in a student exchange program. Although both girls are from Kentucky, one is from the bustling city of Lexington and the other is from the mountains.

Ivy June is excited about her upcoming trip to spend two weeks with Catherine in Lexington, Kentucky. The exchange program was organized by their schools, and Ivy June was encouraged to apply by her family, especially her grandparents. Her name was chosen from among six names thrown into a coffee can.

Although she is excited about the adventure, she worries about fitting in in the big city. She knows Catherine will no doubt live in a fancy house with indoor plumbing which will be a welcome change, but Ivy June doesn't want to end up coming back home wishing for a different life. She has been living with her grandparents for some time now. It was just getting too crowded over at her old house. She's just a short walk from her ma and pa, but being the only child living with her grandparents and her 100 year old great-grandmother has given her more of a sense of belonging and love then she ever had at home.

The idea of the exchange program is for Ivy June to stay with Catherine for two weeks. She is to attend Catherine's private school for one week, and then enjoy a week of sight-seeing during Catherine's spring break. After a week back in the mountains, Catherine is scheduled to visit Ivy June for two weeks.

Both girls might be in seventh grade, but that's about where the similarities in life-style end. How will they get along? Can they each adjust to the vastly different economic conditions and completely different family structures they will encounter? And how will they hold up in any serious situations that might develop during their visits?

Prolific children's author, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, is at her best in FAITH, HOPE, AND IVY JUNE. She masterfully creates two totally opposite worlds in which Ivy June and Catherine come together as friends who learn to recognize the uniqueness that surrounds each of them. Using journal entries written by both girls, Naylor reveals their excitement, nervousness, and frustration as they meet and live each other's lives. Readers will experience humor, controversy, suspense, and love as Ivy June and Catherine's adventure unfolds.

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