Sunday, January 19, 2020

Review - Ivy + Bean

Ivy + Bean (Ivy + Bean #1)
by Annie Barrows
illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Date: 2006
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Reading level: C
Book type: illustrated chapter book
Pages: 120
Format: e-book
Source: library

The moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they wouldn't be friends. But when Bean plays a joke on her sister, Nancy, and has to hide quickly, Ivy comes to the rescue, proving that sometimes the best of friends are people never meant to like each other. Vibrant characters and lots of humor make this a charming and addictive introduction to Ivy and Bean.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is my first experience reading about this duo. It might not be the last. The story was cute enough, and I thought the girls' characters were done pretty well.

Bean wants to play a joke on her sister, but it backfires and Bean has to hide out for a while until Nancy has cooled off. She ends up roped into a scheme with Ivy, the little girl who lives across the street (and who Bean's mother has been pestering her to go and play with), to cast a witchy spell. As the girls move through the neighbourhood, encountering a variety of neighbours in their quest for spell ingredients, they grow closer (as little kids do when they're engaged in a common activity), and by the end of it all, when Bean's suffering through some well-earned discipline for her part in the plot, the two girls are friends.

I'm not sure why I didn't love this more than I did. Maybe it's because it's intended for young readers and it reads like it (unlike, say, Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson series, which has enough humour and heart to engage older readers as well). Maybe it's just the illustrations. I've seen Blackall's work before, but I just don't like it here. The characters are... well, ugly, for lack of a better word. Maybe if the pictures had been in full colour, like the cover, I would've liked them a little more; the black-and-white illustrations just seem flat and kind of rushed.

Overall, though, this would probably be a good series for kids who are beginning to read chapter books. It'll probably be little girls who read this, simply because of the gender of the two main characters (although the story itself isn't really "girly").

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 4/5
Writing & Editing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.13 out of 5

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