Ivy and Bean

"Mama, how long is five months?"

The other day, Mushroom came downstairs with Ivy and Bean and a request that I reread it.  Chapter books almost never get rerequested in our house, so this was really a testament of love.  BalletBoy then wanted to know when the next one is coming out.  Turns out the answer is not until September.  Alas!  This was clearly an inconceivable wait for a book.

We love Ivy and Bean around here.  Mushroom likes to wince and cover his eyes whenever Bean does anything that’s about to get her in trouble.  BalletBoy likes to hear about Ivy’s concoctions and witchcraft.  I like the books so much that when I realized that Annie Barrows was also one of the authors of the popular adult book The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society, it actually got me to read it despite its too-cute title.  I’m glad I did, too.  It was no weighty tome, but it made for a fun weekend read.

I also like that I have two boys who would never dream of being embarrassed that they’re so in love with a “girl” book.  But then I thought to myself, well, there must be a boy book equivalent to Ivy and Bean.  So I racked my brain.  Girls get Ivy and Bean, but if you head to the chapter book section in the bookstore, they’ve also got Clementine and Judy Moody.  Plus they get Junie B. Jones, Katie Kazoo and Cam Jansen.  Not to mention several very pink and sparkly series about fairies.

What do the boys get?  Well, a glance at the chapter book section tells me that mostly they get adventure stories, mysteries and fantasies.  The boys are supposed to want time traveling tree houses or giant robots that tell fart jokes.  Well, my boys do like those, but they also really like sweet stories about friendship.  There are a few options, so I guess I’ll try them out.  I’m just a little floored by the sheer number of girl books on the chapter books aisle.  Is this just fair turnaround from when boy books dominated the shelves?  Is this an effect of girls reading earlier than boys on average?  Or are my boys that unusual in their desire for a sweeter story?

6 thoughts on “Ivy and Bean

  1. I’m so psyched that you have a blog! So true about Ivy & bean. What a great series. Maybe the lack of similar chapter books for boys is due to the number of men writing chapter books? I wonder if more women write children’s chapter books and therefore you have more girlie books about relationships. Just a guess.

  2. Maybe. I think some wonderful “boy books” are written by female authors, though obviously more male writers would probably help the genre. Overall, it’s a genre that, in my mind, is really just getting started. Until recently, I don’t think it was taken seriously, but series like Ivy and Bean, which is both easy to read and well-written, are changing that. I think maybe chapter books need an award to invigorate the genre, the way that the Geisel Award has for easy readers.

  3. Have you guys read, The Stories Julian Tells, by Ann Cameron? It’s the first book in a wonderful short 1981 series of books about two brothers (Julian & Huey). They’re sweet, funny, and poetic. My kids loved them.
    I had no idea Annie Barrows also wrote The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society. Now I feel like I should read it.

  4. Thanks, Robin, that looks good. It looks like one that has clearly been out of fashion and not on the chapter books shelf at the bookstore. Another I thought of was the Jamie and Angus stories by Anne Fine. And we’ve been reading Stinky. It’s still just slim pickings compared to all those girl series.

  5. Hello – I found this post while conducting fruitless Google searches to try to figure out if Ivy & Bean is appealing to boys at all. My oldest is an avid reader but hasn’t really taken to the relatively slim pickings geared toward his gender. Amazon has Ivy & Bean for $14 bucks today for a box set of the first 8 books in hardback, so I think I’ll just go for it.

    Weirdly, though, I noticed while I was here that you have buttons for places I am also into, like secularhomeschool.com and Free Range Kids. Cool! I blog a little about our secular homeschooling adventures, too, though we’re pretty new to the whole scene with our oldest finishing up Kindergarten right now. Anyway, just thought it was a cool coincidence. I’ll definitely read more of your blog. 🙂 Feel free to check me out, too at cincysarah.com.

  6. I have had the same dilemma. I arrived at this page looking for books like Ivy + Bean for my 6 year old son. He loves them. Laughs out loud. I think they are great for boys but am looking for the next thing. He also loved the “My Father’s Dragon” books. They are older and maybe a bit harder but fantastic. About dragons, but in a quieter just plain imagination sort of way.

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