Review: Ivy + Bean: What’s the Big Idea?
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 2, 2010
by Annie Barrows (Author), Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 6-10
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (September 22, 2010)
Ivy and Bean return in the seventh book of their series, Ivy + Bean: What’s the Big Idea? All the kids in second grade love science. That is until some older kids come to talk to the class about global warming. Suddenly their enthusiasm for science begins to melt away just like the polar ice caps. When it’s time for the Science Fair, the chosen theme is, of course, global warming. All of the kids rise to the occasion—some of the kids even try holding their breath to avoid the production of carbon-dioxide (they work out pretty quickly that this might not be the most effective solution).
Author Annie Barrows is so in-tune with the minds of children, and this shines through with the comical experiments that Ivy and Bean try out before choosing they’re brilliant and thought-provoking Science Fair project. It must be noted that Ivy and Bean do not get to the point of choosing their project lightly. In fact, Barrows has created quite the page-turner by instilling the idea in the readers mind that the two friends will not be able to decide on a project at all. Barrows’ writing is clever, well paced, comical, and descriptive in all of the right places. As cheeky as Ivy and Bean are, it’s so hard not to love them.
Sophie Blackall’s brilliant and cunning black and white illustrations, which she creates in Chinese ink, are visible on every double-page spread. Due to the clear personified distinctions that Blackall gives each of the girls, it’s obvious that she knows these characters as well as Barrows does. Through careful details, she gives the girls brilliant facial expressions that mesh incredibly with the energy of the text. Blackall’s illustrations of the everyday scenes—such as the illustration of Ivy’s mom sitting on her exercise ball chair while she takes a momentary break from her computer to converse with the girls—offer young readers additional opportunities to relate and connect to the characters.
To top off another great installment of the series, there are plenty of great explanations of global warming and the many experiments used throughout the book—they can be found in the last few pages. Did you know that cars could actually run on limes instead of gasoline? Well they can, but we’d have to rip down all of Earth’s trees and replace them with lime trees only. I highly recommend this book—not only is it full of fun facts—it raises awareness about global warming, it teaches children that they can care for the earth, and encourages them to think outside of the box.
Then [Ms. Aruba-Tate] said, “Boys and girls, I’m hearing that you are very worried about global warming. I’m feeling sorry that you’re worried, but I’m also feeling glad that you care so much about the earth. People who care so much as you do are the people who will find solutions to the problem.”
Add this book to your collection: Ivy and Bean What’s the Big Idea? (Book 7) by Annie Barrows
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The publisher, Chronicle Books, has developed some activity ideas inspired by What’s The Big Idea. Though they were designed for bookstores and libraries, you may have fun doing these activities with yout own kids too: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/ivyandbean/pdfs/ivyBeanBigIdea_activitiesGuide.pdf
On page 38 of What’s The Big Idea, Ms. Aruba-Tate shows the class the Certificate of Achievement they’ll earn at the Science Fair. Kids can print out their own Certificate of Achievement here: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/ivyandbean/pdfs/ivyBean_CertificateOfAchievement.pdf
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