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 read them. I do agree that the format is ideal for young readers transitioning to chapter books. The illustrations help break up the text, and the chapters are short enough to be read without being too taxing for an emerging reader.
The premise of finding a surprisingly satisfying friendship in an unexpected someone is appealing. But I was really bothered by the unrelenting selfishness and meanness of spirit displayed by Bean. She does have one brief moment of feeling sorry for her sister only to quickly return with an even greater enmity toward her. Reading this to my 6-year-old, I found myself having to answer lots of questions about the abundant deviousness-- stealing $20 from her sister, staging a run away from home to try to avoid punishment and get sympathy desert, planning to cast a bad spell on her sister.
I am stymied at all the positive reviews this book receives. Bean uses a lot of language I find unacceptable ("dork", "stupid", "boring") and both Ivy and Bean have disrespectful attitudes toward adults and cruel ones toward siblings. The mothers of each girl appear peripherally and show little to no disapproval of their daughter's tricks.
My daughter said out loud, "I wonder why Grandma bought this book for me"