Ivy & Bean Book Review

Review of Ivy and Bean Book 1: Why your kids shouldn’t read it.

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Book review: Ivy and Bean

I recently read Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows. I remember having read the book before, when I was much younger, but I couldn’t seem to remember what it was about, if it was good or bad, I just knew I’d read it before.

The book seemed promising. It was supposed to be a story about this little girl, named Bean who meets another girl named and Ivy, and they become fast friends. I thought it might be a little like Betsy-Tacy,which by the way I really enjoyed. However, though it started out very similar, both girls live on the same street, they see each other, but don’t meet right away, it quickly got very different.

Here's how it got different

Bean, whose real name is Bernice, is, well to put it nicely, a brat. She talks very rudely to her mother, she does not respect the neighbors, and she is especially mean to her older sister Nancy. 

Bean comes across as a saucy, pranking, pestering, rude little girl, and that is not a good example for children.

At first Bean does not even want to meet Ivy because she looks too nice, she looks like a good girl, who behaves herself. But, after stealing her sister’s money, then trying to trip and scare her, Bean decides to run away instead of facing consequences. Ivy steps in and helps her hide from her family. Ivy then reveals that she is learning how to be a witch, and is practicing different spells.

Review of Ivy and Bean Pin

After talking for a bit, and becoming friends, the girls decide to try out a spell on Nancy. They want to cast a spell that will make her dance in a most undignified way. This spell requires worms from the garden.

In the end, Bean just throws the worms at Nancy face, some of them landing in her mouth, down her shirt, in her hair, and everywhere else. The girls then begin chasing each other around the yard. Eventually their mother comes and tries to find out what happened. For all the trouble she caused, Bean is hardly punished at all. It is very distressing to see the bad behavior coming from Bean not being dealt with very well by her parents. Kids absolutely love this book. But why? Is it because they get a kick out of a kid doing bad things and getting away with it?

In conclusion

Some people compare Bean to Ramona Quimby. I don’t think that’s entirely fair though. Most of the bad things Ramona did were by accident, through mis-understandings. The other times when she was just being plain naughty, her parents called her out on it, and she had to deal with consequences. We see throughout the rest of the Ramona series, that she is trying harder and harder to do better, and to be a better person. And even if we are just comparing the book Ivy and Bean to the book Beezus and Ramona, the latter have a better sister relationship. Even though they fight, in the end they are sisters and love each other. Bean and Nancy gave me no indication that this was also true for them.

The lesson to be learned from this book is...

If you misbehave or do something naughty, run away. Eventually your parents will get worried about you. When they do, come back home. They will be so glad to have you back they will forget about the bad things you did and won’t punish you. Pretty good message to send to kids right?

This book should be called Ivy and Bean are extremely mean!


    • Jackie

      I am SO excited that I found your blog. I am a new homeschooling mom on the hunt for early readers for for my first grader. She is on a second grade reading level. It is tricky finding books that challenge her without discouraging her. Anyway, I really appreciate your disapproval of Ivy and Bean. Way to stick your neck out there for morality! These books are all the rage right now. I flipped through them at the bookstore and happened to see the witchcraft stuff. No thank you. I didn’t know the characters also behaved poorly. Sad. :/ We don’t read Junie B. Jones in our house for that very reason. I can’t wait to look all over your blog in the next few weeks! We LOVE to read aloud in our house. We just finished Ginger Pye and The Moffats by Elenor Estes, which were just delightful books. We are now starting Mr. Poppers Penguins. I wrote down your Melendy Quartet suggestion and I hope to get to those after we finish up with the Moffat series. SO much great literature out there!

  • Allison

    I completely agree with your review of this book. I wasn’t happy with the way Bean treated her sister and the name calling etc, but I was actually disturbed when we got to the witchcraft aspect. I think both the cover and the description on this book are deceiving. I bought it second-hand for my 7 year old, since it is often recommended in chapter books for girls. I wish I would have researched further. In any case, we will not be finishing it. Glad I didn’t pay much for it. Also glad that I didn’t just hand it over for my daughter to read alone.

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