Ivy and Bean
by Annie Barrows , illus. by Sophie Blackall
Ivy and Bean may seem like unlikely buddies, but they complement each other beautifully. Bean's mother suggests an idea that’s usually the kiss of death for a new friendship: Why doesn’t Bean play with Ivy, the new girl across the street? “She seems like such a nice girl,” says Mom. Seven-year-old Bean tells her mother she already has plenty of friends (“Nice, Bean knew, is another word for boring”). Bean observes the way Ivy carefully holds back her long, curly red hair with a sparkly headband, wears dresses and reads books. Tomboy Bean thinks that Ivy, unlike her, "had never once in her whole life climbed a tree and fallen out." But Ivy becomes an accomplice to help Bean out when Bean’s older sister, Nancy, has it in for her. And when it turns out that Ivy is in training to become a witch, and may have just the spell to keep bossy Nancy at bay. Sophie Blackall’s black-and-white illustrations play up the girls' differences while also keeping an eye on the story’s comical underpinnings, while Annie Barrows’ heavy emphasis on the dialogue will keep even newly independent readers clipping along. Your child will likely want to keep company with these two friends for many books to come.