We’ve just finished reading through our Ivy + Bean collection again – this time with kid #2. E loved these books when she was first getting into chapter books – she probably read them dozens of times. We pulled them off the shelf a few weeks ago and started reading them to F, and we were surprised at just how much she loved them. As soon as dinner was done and cleared she would start talking about them. They were a terrific motivator for getting through baths and teeth brushing (for the most part), and they also elicited serious moaning and groaning when we reached the end of each night’s three chapter allotment. It’s just so hard to wait.
If you aren’t familiar with the books, that’s Ivy on the left, and Bean on the right. Ivy’s a bookworm with a brain full of interesting ideas and tidbits of knowledge, while Bean’s much more active and mischievous and impulsive. (Hmmm, sort of like two girls I know.) They make a bit of an odd couple, but their friendship is deep and sincere. They balance each other out a bit – but not so much that they don’t end up in some sort of trouble in each book. I’m probably not the first to compare Annie Barrow‘s Ivy + Bean series to Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books – Bean has plenty of Ramona moments, particularly in the way she interprets unfairness in her interactions with her older sister and her parents. Illustrator Sophie Blackall has a great website that showcases her masterful capture of both girls’ personalities and reactions, and there’s a fun little background video on the two characters here.
I think the favorite book of the bunch for F was “No News Is Good News”, and it’s probably my favorite too (lowfat Belldeloon cheese in a special just-for-you serving size!). We need to pick up the latest book in the series – maybe we’ll do that this weekend – and then we’ll likely start right back at the beginning and read them all over again.
The Ivy + Bean series is perfect for kids five and up, and the sweet spot is probably seven or eight.
Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!