Ivy + Bean, Book 1

Book review by
Pam Gelman, Common Sense Media
Ivy + Bean, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Friendship tale a sure hit with kids starting chapter books.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 27 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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

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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycoffeeandbooks January 1, 2015

Mean-spirited, disrespectful protagonist

My 6-year-old daughter received 5 of these books from my mother as a Christmas gift. She chose them because of their popularity and positive reviews and did not... Continue reading
Parent of a 1, 4, and 6-year-old Written bylaurak84 February 14, 2016

These 2 Are Not Role Models

This series was recommended to us by our children's librarian. My just turned six year old plowed through them quickly and seemed to enjoy the first two. H... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMoviegirl700 December 23, 2018

Not for young kids!!!

This was a good book for young pre-teens. Ivy aspires to be a witch. Bean calls her sister a tightwad, and the sister is full of herself. Kind of sad.
Teen, 17 years old Written byitsyourgirl27 November 28, 2020

Good Learning Moment

I read this whole series as a kid. I am now 17 and think it's funny to see what some parents have to say. I was an avid reader and devoured anything I coul... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love books about friends and strong girls

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