The best birthday present Georgia received this year was the latest installment of the Ivy & Bean series, Doomed to Dance. I am on a constant quest to find books that are both the right level and interesting enough to hold Georgia’s attention. The pickings are slim, my friends. However, there are a couple of good ones, like the Franny K. Stein series, the Max and Maddy Series, and the Akimbo books. But, by far, for Georgia, the winner is Ivy & Bean. We have been waiting for this new release for six months, and were thrilled it arrived before Georgia’s birthday.
In Doomed to Dance, Ivy and Bean read a book about the ballet, Giselle, and decide they simply must take ballet class. Taking a page from my own playbook, the moms allow them to join, but also insist that they have to stick with it through the entire session. The grim difference between Giselle and a beginning ballet class for 7 year olds quickly becomes obvious and the rest of the book is the story about how they try to get out of their promise. I don’t want to give it away, but let’s just say that it involves running away and very scary giant squids. You’ve gotta love any book for a second grader that manages to include both Giselle and giant squids with grace.
Aside from Georgia’s devotion to them, what I love most about Ivy & Bean is that the characters are believable and charming. While sometimes naughty, there is always a logic and justification for their behavior. In addition, the parents react with appropriate and realistic discipline. By contrast, books like Junie B. Jones and Eloise imply that arbitrary bratty behavior and, even worse, bad grammar, is somehow endearing. It’s a relief to find a book both with fun young girl characters and positive relationships.
Georgia believes that the best book in a series is always the third one. She says that way the characters are really well developed, but the author is still not out of ideas. Ivy and Bean is the exception, we both agree they just keep getting better and better.
– Jessica Wheeler