Ivy + Bean: Book 1



A sure hit with kids starting chapter books.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids see how you can can navigate a neighborhood by going through backyards.

Positive messages

Don't judge a book by its cover -- you may have a lot in common with someone who, on first glance, seems very different from you. Unscheduled time and imaginative freeplay is fun. Reading is cool. It's wonderful to discover a good friend. 

Positive role models

Ivy and Bean each have great qualities: They're fun-loving, adventurous, creative, spunky, smart, supportive of each other, imaginative, curious, and adept at making up their own fun and games. They're also open to being friends with someone different. Bean is prone to (harmless) pranks and typical sibling rivalry, and she steals money from her older sister and tries to cast a spell on her. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Bean razzes her older sister and calls her a "tightwad."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ivy + Bean is a multiple award-winning book about making a new friend, learning about differences, and sharing an adventure. On the surface these girls appear to be very different. One wears dresses and reads books; the other has a sassy mouth and likes to get dirty. Some sibling issues occur, including fights with an older sister, stealing her money, playing tricks on her, and calling her names, such as "tightwad." With its oversize print, frequent black-and-white illustrations, and easy-to-follow plot, this first book in a consistently funny and engaging series is a great starter chapter book for kids just emerging from being early readers. Audiobook version read by Cassandra Morris.

What's the story?

Seven-year-old Bean gets caught playing a trick on her older sister and manages to escape thanks to the help of an unlikely ally: a "quiet" neighbor girl named Ivy. Then Ivy takes Bean to a secret hideout and reveals she's a witch-in-training. When Ivy offers to cast a "dancing spell" on Bean's older sister, Bean is thrilled. As the girls work together on their plan, a friendship is born.

Is it any good?


IVY + BEAN makes the jump to chapter books easier with its large-print, easy-to-follow text, expressive illustrations -- and, most important, two colorful 7-year-old girls. Reminiscent of the classic Beverly Cleary series about Ramona, here's another book series about friendship, silliness, pranks, adventure, getting in trouble, and challenges with siblings that's a sure hit with kids.

So typical of real life, these girls, who are neighbors, are urged by their respective mothers to play together. Ivy appears quiet, dainty, and dutiful, and Bean is wild, dirty, and full of sass. Not until they join forces against Bean's older sister do they discover each other's unique qualities. Ivy is actually studying to become a witch. Bean knows how to move through the neighborhood via backyards. Here's to the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Ivy and Bean had no interest in being friends when they met because each thought the other was too different. What do they discover about each other? 

  • What other books have you read that feature strong girls as main characters? 

  • How are Ivy and Bean more similar in personality than different? Do you have friends who are just like you or different in many ways? 

Book details

Author:Annie Barrows
Illustrator:Sophie Blackall
Genre:For Beginning Readers
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Chronicle Books
Publication date:April 17, 2007
Number of pages:120
Publisher's recommended age(s):6 - 9
Read aloud:5
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

This review of Ivy + Bean: Book 1 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • The first Ramona book is a treat for all ages.
  • Clever time-travel mystery about twins has some mild danger.
  • Great novel about a girl, her chickens, and her best friend.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 9 year old Written by1970 dad March 20, 2011

great if you like witchcraft not for my girl

Yes i agree this book is about a friendship, but.. this book is strongly based on witchcraft. Some of the content is not what I would want my 9 year old exposed to, and the girls do seem to have a rather sassy attitude towards others not a role model for my girl for sure.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 4, 6, and 8 year old Written byericandles January 18, 2011


This is an excellent read aloud for a family. Our three children enjoyed these books together (ages 4-8).
Adult Written bykeeslerkids April 9, 2008

Daughter loved IT!

My daughter received this book as a gift from a third grade teacher, she sat down with it and I didn't see her again until she was done! I asked how she liked it and she said she loved it. She is seven and going into second grade.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide