Annie Barrows has written many books for adults, but Ivy and Bean is her first series for children. She lives in northern California with her husband and two daughters. Sophie Blackall is an Australian illustrator whose books include Ruby's Wish and Meet Wild Boars. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Gr 1-4-Seven-year-old Bean likes stomping in puddles, climbing fences into neighbors' backyards, and playing tricks on her older sister, Nancy. She wears dresses as seldom as possible and avoids big books. Her new neighbor appears to be a quiet, orderly girl who sits on her front step day after day reading tomes. The two seem to have nothing in common, and Bean is not interested in getting to know Ivy, despite her mother's prodding to make friends with the nice girl next door. Then Bean gets into trouble, and Ivy helps her out. She discovers that Ivy is practicing to be a witch, and when they decide to cast a spell on Nancy, their friendship is sealed. With echoes of Beverly Cleary's "Ramona" series, this easy chapter book will appeal to children who are graduating from beginning readers. The occasional black-and-white illustrations highlight the text and provide visual clues. The characters are appealing, the friendship is well portrayed, and the pranks and adventures are very much on grade level.-Eve Ottenberg Stone, Cooper Lane Elementary, Landover Hills, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Barrows's debut children's book energetically kicks off a series about two seemingly unlikely pals, just right for kids moving on from beginning readers. Bean's mother suggests that she play with Ivy, the new girl across the street, "She seems like such a nice girl." Seven-year-old Bean says she already has plenty of friends ("Nice, Bean knew, is another word for boring"). After all, Ivy's long, curly red hair is neatly pushed back with a sparkly headband, and she always wears dresses and reads books; headband-, dress- and book-shunning tomboy Bean muses that Ivy "had never once in her whole life climbed a tree and fallen out." But when Ivy offers to get Bean out of a jam with her older sister, Nancy, Bean takes Ivy up on it. Bean discovers that the not-so-boring, wand-toting Ivy is in training to become a witch, and working on a spell that keeps its victim dancing for lifewhich sets Bean thinking about the ideal fate for bossy Nancy. Blackall's (Ruby's Wish) half-tone spot art and full-spread illustrations deftly capture the girls' personalities and the tale's humor, while also filling out fun details about Ivy's room and the neighbors' backyards. Barrows's narrative brims with sprightly dialogue and tidily ties everything togetherboth Bean and Ivy find a fast friend and set the stage for Ivy and Bean and the Ghost that Had to Go, scheduled for the fall. Ages 6-10. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
BARNES & NOBLE REVIEW
\\\"Annie Barrows accomplishes the almost impossible task of reflecting the world of second grader, creating the tension and drama of family and friendships in language that can be read easily by child who recently graduated from easy readers to early chapter books. \\\" Lisa Von Drasek, Children\\\'s Librarian, Bank Street College of Education