Ivy and Bean are the most unlikely pair of friends on Pancake Court. Ivy wears dresses every day. Bean only wears dresses on special occasions. Ivy always has her nose in a book; Bean can never sit still. Despite her mother's constant nagging, Bean is convinced that Ivy is too boring to be a good friend. However, when Bean requires a quick escape after a failed prank on her bossy older sister, Ivy comes to the rescue.
Ivy is not only a creative escape artist but also an aspiring witch. She's learning her craft from a large spell book, but she doesn't look like much of a witch to Bean, who thinks an authentic look is a vital part of casting successful spells. She paints Ivy's face, ties up her hair and fixes her witch's cloak. Now that Ivy looks more like a witch, Bean thinks she might not be so boring after all. In fact, Ivy might be just the person Bean needs to help cure her sister's bossiness. Ivy and Bean decide that a dancing spell is the perfect solution. They assemble the necessary ingredients and begin work on their potion. Will a common goal unite these two complete opposites?
Annie Barrows' simple and sassy text will draw in both the reluctant reader and the young bookworm. In this first book of a planned series, Barrows captures the spirit and imagination of a pair of seven-year-old girls, turning an ordinary cul-de-sac into a plethora of potential adventures.
Sophie Blackall, a winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award, uses charming illustrations to complement the text. The facial expressions on Blackall's characters are especially delightful, giving the reader another facet of Ivy's and Bean's personalities.
Fans of Beverly Cleary's Beezus and Ramona will enjoy this cleverly written and illustrated tale of sibling rivalry and unexpected friendship.
Tracy Marchini works at a literary agency in Manhattan. Copyright 2006 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
Ivy, the new girl in the neighborhood, looks boring to feisty seven-year-old Bean (a.k.a. Bernice) because she's always reading quietly on her front steps. Illustrated with lively black-and-white ink drawings, this engaging debut of a new series shows the two girls' serendipitous meeting, during which Bean discovers that Ivy has a mischievous side after all. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 May #1
A charismatic duo makes their debut in this new chapter-book series. Barrows provides a fresh take on the standard odd-couple tale of friendship, with a caveat to readers of not judging a book by its cover-or the new girl by her seemingly goody image. Bean, an energetic girl with an inclination for mischief, just doesn't see the appeal of her new neighbor Ivy, whom her mother extols as such a "nice girl," which Bean readily translates to mean dull. However, when she needs to escape the wrath of her bossy sister Nancy, Bean discovers a whole new dimension to the quiet girl next door. Together Ivy and Bean concoct a plan to cast Ivy's fledgling dancing spell on Nancy, with unexpected and hilarious results. With a hearty helping of younger sibling angst, a sprinkling of spells and potions and a dash of nosy neighbors, Barrows has the perfect recipe for solidifying a newfound friendship. Blackall's saucy illustrations detailing the girls' hijinks and their calamitous outcomes are liberally featured throughout the text. Readers are bound to embrace this spunky twosome and eagerly anticipate their continuing tales of mischief and mayhem. (Fiction. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - February 2007
Bean was sure that the new neighbor would not be any fun. She was sure the girl on the steps next door must be a good girl and not at all like herself. Bean finds out differently when a trick on her older sister Nancy causes her to need some fast help. Ivy shows her a thing or two about fun. For example, Ivy dresses up and creates a dancing spell for Nancy. This easy chapter book does not have a sophisticated storyline, but it would hold the interest of strong seven-year-old readers and some eight and nine year olds. It has several b&w drawings that enhance the author's word pictures. Additional Selection. Roxanne Welch Mills, Supervisor of Media Services, Chesapeake (Virginia) Public Schools [Editor's Note: Book 2: Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go (0-8118-4910-4) is also available.] © 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 May #3
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 life--which 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 together--both 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)[Page 72]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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[Page 68]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.