Author: Annie Barrows
Year published: 2006
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Number of pages: 113
Is this book part of a series? Book #1 in Ivy and Bean series
Recommended age: 6-8
Child Rating: ★★★★☆
Grown-up Rating: ★★★☆☆
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from Back Cover): Meet Ivy and Bean, two friends who never meant to like each other. The moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they would never be friends. But when Bean plays a trick on her sister and has to hide — quick! – – Ivy comes to the rescue with her wand, some face paint, and a bucket of worms. Will they end up in trouble? Maybe. Will they have fun? Of course!
What it’s about: This book is about Ivy and Bean – the two girls who misbehave. Bean and her sister Nancy don’t get along. Bean tries to play a trick on her sister and hides in a bush. Ivy comes out of her house waving a stick. Bean asks “What the heck are you doing?” and Ivy thinks she’s a ghost because she couldn’t see her. Nancy doesn’t fall for Bean’s trick and pulls Bean out of the bush to get her in trouble. Bean gets away and Ivy tells her to come inside her yard and hide. Ivy shows Bean her room and they plan to cast a dancing spell on Nancy using worms. They cross all the neighbour’s yards to get to Bean’s house to dig for worms. Nancy sees them and chases them, but they hide in the playhouse. Ivy and Bean throw worms at Nancy who loses her balance in the muddy hole and starts to dance – – the spell worked.
What I liked and disliked about it: Bean is naughty and Ivy is not too mean and not too nice. I think I’m more like Ivy than Bean and I like Ivy better. Nancy and Bean have a horrible relationship – it’s nothing like me and my brother. I wouldn’t steal his money and I love him. The story is funny and the girls are funny. My favourite part is when Bean was hiding in the bush pretending to be a ghost. I thought Ivy’s room was really cool and it’s giving me ideas for my room. I’ve read the other books too and in some of the other books the girls are nice. I didn’t like it when Bean stole Nancy’s money because that wasn’t very nice and especially because they are sisters. The throwing of worms was funny because it was part of the spell but it would be mean to actually do that in real life.
My bottom line: I liked this book and I’ve also read five other Ivy and Bean books. The later books get better. I would recommend this book to my friends both boys and girls. Boys might like it because sometimes they get crazy like Ivy and Bean do.
What it’s about: As far as I can tell, this story is about friendship and not going by first impressions. The story begins with Bean not wanting to befriend the new little neighbour girl across the street because she appears to be too straight-laced. But Bean is pleasantly surprised when Ivy is more than willing to conspire with her against Bean’s older sister Nancy. Seems Ivy isn’t so goody-two-shoes after all! Ivy rescues Bean from her sister Nancy, who is intent on dragging Bean into their house to get her in trouble with their mother. Bean escapes to Ivy’s house where she enters a highly imaginative world contained within the walls of Ivy’s room. The two girls decide to cast a spell on Nancy which would have her dancing for the rest of her life. The girls conspire to cross the neighbour’s yard to go digging for worms in Bean’s back yard – – worms being the necessary ingredient in the dancing spell. A predictable series of events ensue reminiscent of old Bugs Bunny reruns where hootin’ and hollerin’ Yosemite Sam (i.e., Nancy) can just never get the upper hand and falls flat on his face (literally).
What I liked and disliked about it: I have mixed feelings about this book. Bean seems to have some redeeming qualities. For example, she does play with all the neighbourhood kids and looks after some of the younger kids on the block. She also has a moment where she actually does feel some compassion for her sister and she does stick up for her new friend when confronted by Nancy. So there’s hope for her, right? Well, mostly not. She doesn’t want to play with the new neighbour (Ivy) because she’s a “nice girl” (i.e., boring). Since when is being nice a bad thing?! Do fun and nice not go together anymore? She even refers to Ivy as a dork at one point (pre-bonding). She’s kind of a mean girl.
Ivy doesn’t seem quite as hopeless (so far). She helps Bean escape the wrath of her sister. She doesn’t participate in the worm throwing so maybe she has a better sense of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. I suspect she’ll be corrupted by Bean in future books. Sigh…aren’t there other children living in the block?
One major problem that I did have with this story is that there is inappropriate language (e.g., “dork”, “burp face”, “dweebs”) and behaviour (e.g., sticking tongue out and wiggling bum at someone, lying to neighbours, trespassing, oh, and throwing worms in someone’s face!). This may be a bit much for kids in early elementary. They really don’t need new ideas for how to misbehave, do they? Perhaps more alarming is the mothers’ responses. Ivy doesn’t get punished at all. Has anyone heard of accomplices? Ok, so Bean lost dessert and videos for a week, but Bean’s mother was pleased that Bean finally made friends with the girl across the street.
Might I just say that if there was a Bean living on our street and my daughter took part in that kind of fiasco, I would not be letting those two play together unsupervised until they were 30 – ok, 18!
This book tries to be clever in places but it just seems to fall flat. For example, Bean states the following:
Her Dad called [the street] a cul-de-sac. Bean called it cool.
I think there was a better line to be inserted there. In another part of the story, when Bean is trying to determine if Ivy’s mom will tell on them, her internal thought process reveals the following:
Grown-ups stuck together that way. Bean’s dad said it was because they were all in a club together, but Bean felt pretty sure he was making that up.
I feel like that author is trying to bring us into the mind of a 7 year-old girl, but the internal dialogue is not that original nor clever in the same way that I enjoyed with Sara Pennypacker’s 8-year old charmer, Clementine.
My bottom line: What do I say?! My daughter really enjoys these books. There are definitely some funny moments – – in between the moments where I’m horrified by the awful behaviour. These books have some entertainment value. When Ivy and Bean are getting to know one another, you actually begin to like them. I will recommend the Ivy and Bean books with words of caution: the main characters act badly. That being said, I do believe that there is an opportunity to discuss what’s wrong with the girls’ behaviour with your children. I hope to uncover more children’s books that have strong and likable characters who can also be good role models. Look for those reviews in the future and feel free to suggest them in the comment box below!
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