Kid’s Book Greatness: Ivy & Bean Make The RulesOWTK KidLit + Comics — By Jeff on September 25, 2012 at 11:30 am
Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9)
by Annie Barrows + Sophie Blackall
Maybe it is because my girls are older than when we first read Book 8 (and, naturally, the previous seven) and, therefore, understand the social/sisterly dynamic of Ivy & Bean more than they ever could before. Maybe it is because Book 9 in the popular series takes place outside of the structured school setting (although long-time fans are giving one Ms. Aruba-Tate reference). The outdoor, unsupervised setting gives all of the characters more room to breath and explore. And boy oh boy do they ever take advantage of that space! Well, whatever it is, Make The Rules is the most satisfying, laugh-out-loud funny Ivy & Bean volume in many a year.
One noticeable change here is the Bean & Nancy (her older sister) relationship. It has evolved to a point where, what was once entirely adversarial, is now more charming and heartwarming. Barrows displays copious amounts of skill in the telling of this evolution, allowing you to feel it from the jump and hear it unfold slowly. You’ll also see it (Blackall’s pencil sketches are, as always, sublime and add to the storytelling), but not be turned off by the new found closeness in a gag-ya-with-a-spoon kinda way. Now, while Nancy and her enrollment in Girl Power 4-Ever camp is the catalyst for Ivy and Bean’s actions, her real role is more subtle and is wrapped up sweetly at the end.
Ivy and Bean are as whip smart as ever as they battle boredom by taking matters into their own hands, starting a curious day camp of their own that eventually leads to the big laughter payoffs scattered throughout the book. And I mean big time gut-laughs, sometimes caused by a single quick-witted line from one of the girls. I will not divulge anything more. I’ll only say that zombies, Romans, a Komodo dragon, and Harry Houdini may or may not be involved. But for all the zaniness within, the ending isn’t at all extreme. This is nice and very realistic, you know, because not every week of childhood leads to a climactic finish. Sometimes, most often, things just are. And things are just lovely at the end of Ivy & Bean Make The Rules, a book that you and your girls ages 5-10 will want to read straightaway.
New to the world of Ivy & Bean? No worries, get caught up in less than 2-minutes with this series trailer:
October 13th 2012 is International Ivy & Bean Day with loads of stuff happening across the globe at libraries and bookstores and in homes. Head here for more info and be sure to check Barrows + Blackall on tour reading & signing next month, culminating with a grand event at the beautiful Symphony Space in NYC. More info and dates here.
*OWTK received a copy of Make The Rules for review consideration. The opinions express above are honest and unbiased, as always.