Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ivy and Bean

Ivy and Bean

Annie Barrows
Illustrator:  Sophie Blackall 
Fiction  Series
For ages 6 to 9
Chronicle Books, 2006   ISBN: 978-0811849036

Bean's mother is always telling her that she should play with the "nice" new girl who recently moved in across the street. Of course this is enough to convince Bean that the new girl, Ivy, is not the kind of girl she, Bean, would like to play with. After all Ivy is solitary, quiet, and bookish. She always wears dresses and has pretty red hair. Bean is never quiet, doesn't like to read, hates dresses, her hair is often a mess, and she likes to play with as many kids as possible. No, Ivy just isn?t her type.

One day Bean discovers how wrong first impressions can be. After being particularly mean to her older sister Nancy, Bean needs a place to hide where her mother won't be able to find her for a while. Ivy offers Bean refuge. Bean soon finds out that Ivy is a pretty interesting person. For one thing Ivy aspires to be a witch and knows some spells. For another she has a wonderful multipurpose room which Bean really likes. When Ivy proposes putting a dancing spell on Nancy, Bean cannot help taking her up on the offer. Imagine casting a spell on Nancy which will make her dance forever? What could be better!

In this delightful chapter book readers get to meet a pair of very different girls who find out that their differences really don't matter  - they can still be friends and they can still have a wonderful time having all kinds of adventures. Bean?s deliciously quirky personality comes through loud and clear, her voice being true to individualistic girls all over the world. Any girl who likes to climb trees, who thinks it is her job to straighten out her older sister, and who is willing to take punishment for a good cause will identify with Bean.

There can be no doubt that Ivy and Bean are a pair of girls who should be watched closely.