Ivy + Bean

When Button was in reception class she was, shall we say, a recalcitrant learner.  She suffers terribly from shiny squirrel syndrome…

a…b….see, there’s a squirrel in the playground

I’ve been fine with that.  She was 4 when she started school and, as she came home to us with significant global developmental delay, I was more than happy to let her set the pace.  Whilst I completely understand why some parents ensure their child starts school with some reading and writing skills, it was not something that concerned me.  I have friends who are teachers and they’ve always assured me that a) my kids were doing just fine thank you (and possibly a little too well on the verbal communication!) and b) it all levels out in the end.

This tactic paid off.  This year, she’s flying.  Reading, writing, maths.  She loves it all. Heavens, she quoted Neil Armstrong to me the other week. And often helps Boy with his letters.

I’m an incredibly proud mum!

With this in mind I’ve been trying very much to engage her in stories that I can read her at bed time, which are age appropriate, but also little more grown up than the books that we’ve always read and which are much loved (Julia Donaldson is, and always will be, a hero in this house.)

Enter my trusty local bookseller, who recommended a series called Ivy + Bean.


One of the big problems of being a kid is that your parents often try to make you play with people you don’t really like…These kids were often weird. I didn’t want to play with them. It was a problem.

But sometimes opposites can become the best of friends because they’re opposites…For Ivy and Bean, their differences mean that they have more fun together than they could ever have separately…The Ivy and Bean books are about the adventures—and disasters—created by this unlikely team.

These delightful chapter books have completely entranced Button.  We read one chapter a night and she begs for more.


Significantly, she retains the story, it’s so engaging.  I sat quietly earlier this week listening to her telling Nana all about how the protagonists tormented Bean’s elder sister with worms and ‘magic’.  Button roared with laughter as she recounted the tale.

I knew we were onto a winner!  In a world where girls are bombarded by Disney princesses (is it wrong that I’m  proud that Button can only name about 2 of them), Ivy + Bean are a charmingly mischievous antidote to saccharine sweetness, lounging around awaiting princely rescue, and princess dresses.

Today I picked up book 2.

book2It’s only been two nights since we finished book 1 and she’s been bereft. So when she discovered the book under her bed this evening she shrieked with joy and danced around the bedroom shouting “book, book, book”.

It’s joyous.  A whole world of knowledge and adventure awaits her, and she’s starting to venture into it.  Ivy + Bean are the new heroes of the hour.  And the reason why we must support our local bookstores.  You just don’t get that kind of service from Amazon!

So, if you’ve not already discovered Ivy + Bean for yourself and the small girl in your life, can I recommend that you do.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.


21 Responses to Ivy + Bean

  1. dokucug says:

    This is fantastic, Evie! Thank you so much for the recommendation! One of our nieces in Turkey, whenever asked what gift she would like from us, always replies: “English books.” I will make sure to pick these up for her. And might read them myself before handing them over – I love children’s literature!

  2. This sounds fab. Thanks evie! Mine is about about the same age and doing well with her reading. She’s also one one of the the youngest being being a July baby. . She’s fonder of princesses than I’d like (altho she likes the more modern ones that aren’t sitting about about waiting for princes to celebrate along). She likes the rainbow magic books but they are a bit long for for her level so maybe these will will work well.

  3. I really miss not reading children’s fiction. My daughter was a big fan of Alfie and Annie-Rose – but that was a long time ago.
    Enjoy your bedtime stories while you can!

  4. scriviasole says:

    I love children who love books. I’m a volunteer reader at our local children library and we follow the project “Nati per leggere” (Born to read), we read books to children on Tuesdays and Saturadays and we also read to pupils in schools or to children at hospital. Of course I read a lot to my little girl who, unfortunately though, can name every princess in the world 🙂 I’d love to read to her in English but she prefers Italian, I will take these books in consideration though! 🙂

  5. Brigitte says:

    A love of books is such a gift. I am so lucky that even though my boys are now young men and haven’t wanted to share a book with me in donkey years, I still get to share a story with the children in my class. If there is one sure way to engage my class of 30 lively 6yr olds is to read them a story. We are now working our way through the Roald Dahl books. Sadly though our busy school day only allows a few minutes now and again to enjoy story time so it may be sometime before we get to read them all !

    • I love Roald Dahl…they are on the kids Christmas book lists. They love the films so it’s time for the books.
      I have always love books…I’m hopeful that my two will do too…so much to explore!

  6. K-Line says:

    Great info. And your parenting style is so smart. It’s tempting to believe that everyone works at the same pace in the same way. If that were the case, I’d never have come to crafting at almost the age of 40. Couldn’t have done it sooner. My brain wasn’t ready.

    • I swear this is probably the only bit I’m getting right at the moment! 😉 But we’ll get there.
      I do think its a real problem with the way the educational system is set up in this country…it’s so homogenised that it allows little flexibility for the kids who need a different learning path to follow it without becoming labelled as special educational needs. I have a friend who has exceptionally gifted children and she faces the same sorts of challenges with them because they fall outside the “normal” spectrum.

  7. Sophie O. says:

    Thanks for the recommendation Evie! Obviously I won’t be using it in the next couple of years, but I will make a note of it: despite being French, English is a bit like my second mother tongue and is something I’m trying to share with my baby girl. She is only five months old but I’ve been talking to her in English since her birth and plan to read English books to/with her when she’s older

  8. Evie must look this up now! May just have to read it to myself 😉 but sounds so cool! I have to say one positive thing about online stores like amazon… I wouldn’t be able to get English books otherwise… And leaving in a small town I just can’t get many things otherwise 🙁 does your bookstore sell online?

    • I agree, Amazon does a great job in certain areas, I just really want to support my little shop too. Locally we have a lot of people complaining that certain shops close, but when questioned you find that they never shopped there!
      I’m not sure if they sell online…might be worth dropping her an email.
      And I love Ivy and Bean too…they are so minxy! 😉

  9. I remember so clearly my grandmother taking my brother and I every week (rain or shine and it was a long walk) to the local library – and I loved it! She instilled a very great love of reading in me and I will be forever grateful to her for this very, very wonderful gift.

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