Ivy + Bean (Book 1)
By Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Published by: Chronicle Books; Reprint edition (May 3, 2007)
Available in: hardcover, paperback, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review there were 10 books in this series.
Wicked and sly. And so, so, so funny.
Ivy + Bean is a modern masterpiece. The two girls are absolutely believable, fully-fleshed out characters who are intriguing, surprising, full of life and just a bit devilish.
But not malicious—they know that some of the things they do are wrong. And yet, who can resist throwing worms in an annoying sister’s face? Or peeking under a department-store dressing-room partition when bored to tears on a shopping trip? Or… it goes on.
Yes, some parents find their behavior obnoxious and bratty. I find it authentic and, with hand held in front of a smile, hilarious.
These girls are so contemporary in language, action, setting, character names and focus that it is a refreshing romp to play in their cul-de-sac. The first book, when they meet, takes place mostly over the course of one afternoon. And yet it expands and breathes and is filled with such drama.
The chapter book aspects are spot on as well. Barrows’ concise sentence structure is a perfect match for the newly independent reader, and her vocabulary choice is inventive and unique. With just short chapters and few characters, Barrows is able to pull the action and plot both forward and taut with every page turn.
The artwork, as well, adds a lively, spunky air that is woefully absent in so much chapter book artwork. Blackall imbues each girl with her own personality in movement and position that is both kid-centered and special. One example: in the chapter Easy-Peasy, Ivy is shown with a book on her knees while Bean watches from behind, a hand on each foot while balancing on her knees. This is what kids do—they move while they’re still, which is what Blackall has captured so magnificently.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….