Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows

Cover image for Ivy and Bean
One area of my library I am less familiar with is the Intermediate Readers.  These are books that are junior novels, of between 60-120 pages or so. Recently I decided to read a couple so I can do a better job with reader's reference for the intermediate crowd.  Ivy and Bean is a popular intermediate series.  Bean is a confident, outgoing seven year old who has pretty much figured out how to get what she wants in the world.  What she doesn't want is to go and play with the new girl in the neighborhood named Ivy.  Ivy seems boring, always wearing a dress and reading a book.  She hardly talks at school. Then one day as Bean is playing a practical joke on her older sister, Bean and Ivy are thrown together.  As they try to escape the wrath of parents and neighbors, they form a fast bond and are soon each other's best friend.

Cover image for Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had to GoIn the sequel, Ivy is convinced there is a ghost in the girl's bathroom at school.  Her vivid description of the phenomenon sparks the imagination of the other students, and soon no one is willing to use the facilities.  Can Ivy and Bean find a way to exorcise the unhappy ghost?

The fun thing about Ivy and Bean is that Barrows has a good feel for the way that 7-year-olds think.  The way the girls come up with plans and believe their imaginations is spot on for the target age group.  The thing I didn't like about Ivy and Bean is that they are not always very nice.  Bean, especially, is pretty devoid of moral scruples and does anything she thinks she has to regardless of whether it is right or wrong.  Bean can be pretty mean to her older sister, and thinks nothing of disobeying or manipulating her parents when it is to her advantage.  This is also age authentic, but it makes it so I didn't like Ivy and Bean as well as I like Clementine.  Clementine gets into a lot of trouble, but it is out of lack of judgement instead of willful disobedience.  The whole time she is at least trying to do what is right and kind.  Ivy and Bean don't even think about being kind.  Some children might enjoy reading about girls with a bit of naughtiness but I liked Clementine better. (112p. and 125p.)

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