Ivy Homeless in San Francisco

Ivy Homeless in San Francisco

Summer Brenner, Author

Brian Bowes, Illustrator

PM Press, June 2011, Paperback

Suitable for: Pre-teen Fiction,  (Ages 9 and Up)

Themes:  Homeless, Poverty, Hope, Friendship

Ivy Homeless in San Francisco, is a compelling and riveting novel that reflects the alarming increase in the number of children who are homeless and living in poverty in America.  Ivy is one of those children.  Summer Brenner has masterfully crafted a book that is realistic, heartbreaking and funny.  It won  the 2011 Silver Award Winner for the Children’s Literary Classics Book Awards under the category of pre-teen fiction, and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award.  This is a  book that should be required reading for kids in Grade level 4 and up, because the face of homelessness is changing.  It offers students insight into the lives of those who live on the streets or in shelters.

Ivy is your average 11-year-old girl who lives in an artist loft with her father, Poppy.  She attends school and has a circle of friends.  One day everything changes when Poppy loses his job and  they are evicted from their home.  Ivy and her father find themselves homeless, living in sleeping bags in the park above the city at night, eating in shelters, and washing and brushing their teeth in public restrooms.  Ivy is embarrassed her friends will find out at school.   Because they are always on the move, Ivy begins to miss school.  Her classroom becomes the life she’s living, with nature lessons, visits to museums and libraries with Poppy.  Life may be harsh among nature’s elements, but it can also bring resilience, hope, adventure, quirky new friendships, kindness and an unexpected surprise.

 Reach and Teach is a peace and social justice learning company, transforming the world through teachable moments.  To learn more about homelessness and to find educational resources, lesson plans, and concrete ways to get involved in reducing the impact of homelessness on people of all ages, please visit www.reachandteach.com/ivy.  Recent studies show that one in 50 kids are homeless.  That represents 1.5 million children a year.  For more information contact the National Center on Family Homelessness and the National Association for the Education of  Homeless Children and Youth.  

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

14 thoughts on “Ivy Homeless in San Francisco

    • Thanks Susanna, I thought the figures were overwhelming. The figure is 1 in 50 kids in the USA. Lisa Ling did a special on the OWN Network about “Homeless in America” that was unbelievable. This book was beautifully written, but very poignant in its message. But, a very important book for kids, because they may not know a classmate if homeless. I like the books Reach and Teach are promoting and publishing about social justice issues and peace.


  1. These are horrifying stats, Pat! I have read several adult books about the homeless and have had the privilege of working on a number of homeless projects, though have rarely encountered such young children. I would love to read this story. Many thanks for reviewing it for us. I do agree this would be an excellent classroom book.


    • Yes, the figures are horrifying. That’s why I decided to review Ivy right now as we head into the holidays. It is a serious problem in the USA — you wouldn’t think so. Saw a report on TV one night — four years after the recession, Seminole County, Florida, has the highest rate of homelessness. They were hit hard after the housing market crash. Construction jobs disappeared and there were a lot of foreclosures. The shelters are full and hotels full. One out of four kids are living in cars. I could go on and on with facts. But, the face of the homelessness has changed — it could be your neighbor or someone you know.


  2. What an eye-opening and powerful book, Pat! The statistics are horrifying. I remember reading one of Jimmy Carter’s books, in which he talked about the joy on the face of a little boy when he learned that they were going to have a Habitat for Humanity house. Thank you for sharing this book about Ivy with us. Thank you for keeping the needs of children before us.


    • Glad you liked the choice, Beth. Thought it the right time of year to share this. This book is powerful and moving read — one I just couldn’t put down. Don’t know about Canada, but it is a huge problem right now in the US. It’s a tragedy.


  3. I saw that show about Florida, too. It was on “Sixty minutes”. Last night there was an amendment to the story about Fla where each family featured a month ago was given a job and a home. Wish we could do as much with our viewing a TV show. Thanks for highlighting this book about homelessness right now at Christmas. It is good to know many people are not as lucky or blessed as we are. This book sounds like a good read, if sad. Sounds like the funny parts are needed to keep it from being too dark.


    • Clar, decided Christmas was a good time to feautre this book. I couldn’t put it down! Glad you liked the selectionQ And, I’m glad to know about the update on “60 Minutes.” As humanitarians, we should not be able to go to sleep at night, knowing that there are those who have no shelter, food — and this is a tragedy in America. It’s not supposed to happen here. There is so much work to be done worldwide.


  4. When I graduated from college with my nursing degree, I volunteered for vista, volunteers in service to America, instead of the Peace Corps because I believed we needed to clean up our own back yard instead of someone else’s. I worked in rural Indiana where I saw plenty of poor people, people unable to get their kids immunized before school. I set up a free immunization clinic and a well baby clinic.
    But getting doctors to agree that people were too poor to go to them was a problem. They just had their eyes closed. Even though another volunteer had done all the stats. I don’t have an answer to get the professionals that can make a difference to open their eyes.
    Maybe books like this is part of the answer. Thanks for the review. I’m sure it helps.


    • Clar, perhaps getting books like this into the hands of the children who will be our leaders will be the answer. Loved your comments. I didn’t realize you were a nurse. I love it that you volunteered for Vista — must have been so frustrating tha you couldn’t get the ears of the doctors. You have a wealth of experience to draw upon for stories. But, you know that there are more free clinics available. Dr. Oz featured one he participated in California on his show. He was horrified that average individuals who were worked, didn’t have employers who offered health care insurance and were not able to afford it. One woman found a tumor in her breast five years ago, and was too ambarassed to go see a doctor because she couldn’t pay. Now she had reached stage 4. It was the worse case Dr. Oz had seen and he stepped in and got her treatment. He now lists free health care clinics on his websites. I know we have them in Dayton, where doctors donate their time. And, there are big dental and health care clinics in the Appalachians, many times a year. You and I could discuss this forever. But, I appreciate your thoughts and the fact that you have helped.


    • Stacy, The 60 Minutes interview started with “Four years after the recession…” So there is a direct link to the current economy, esecially in FLorida. Lisa Ling’s special on Homeless in America on the OWN Network was upsetting, because the people she feautured could be someone you know — lost job, house forclosures. So, I thought it a timely time to review this book.


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