The Ivy & Bean's Secret Treasure Box is the ideal way for a young reader to dive headstrong into the world of Ivy and Bernice (Bean). This tidy set includes the 1st three books in the popular series and a 4th "book" that is actually a secret hiding spot for a cool little Ivy & Bean diary (included).
Despite it's tempting fonts, stylish argyle covers and wickedly cool illustrations, I was a little apprehensive about starting the Ivy & Bean series. My oldest is a 5-year-old gal who still enjoys the infantile Maisy books, so I was in absolutely no hurry to usher in older (yet sometimes more juvenile) situations, words and behavior. I accept that such material may be a part of the growing up process for a 6, 7, 8-year-old but again, I found myself in no hurry to be the catalyst for it.
After reading the 1st Ivy & Bean book, most of my, call 'em fears, proved a bit over-reactionary. Yeah, Bean is a bit of a name caller, her big sis drops a 'booger-head' or two as well, and there's some light trespassing activity but really this is all just good, relatively harmless childhood fun through the eyes of a pair of precocious 7-year-old girls.
For the first half of the first book we discover Ivy only through the eyes of Bean, who perceives her neighbor in a negative light and, despite her mother's constant prodding, refuses to interact with her. Eventually, however, the girls do meet and the imaginary wall Bean constructed begins to crumble. The girls quickly find themselves inseparable and thus the series is born. The first book is a fantastic set up of the friendship, while the 2nd begins the series' pattern of zeroing in with a focused, self-contained story.
While each of the first 3 books in the series is outstanding on their own, the finest moment of the set comes late in "Ivy & Bean Set The Fossil Record", the 3rd book. In an attempt to set a world record in something, anything, and impress their classmates, the girls convince themselves that the bones too-easily discovered in the yard are those of dinosaurs. As a crowd gathers to inspect their junior paleontology, Ivy is unfazed. Bean, however, reacts quite differently. It's at this juncture that Bean understands a primary difference between herself and her BFF. She sees that for someone like Ivy, who is generally unaffected by the opinions of others, life must often be lead in a kind of solitude. Loneliness can be the trade-off for being fiercely independent.
This moment in the series marks an important introspective moment for Bean. She must come to grips with her fears of embarrassment and do so without the understanding or support of Ivy, who experiences none of it. Throughout these books, the development of the two primary characters is fantastic, climaxing right here towards the finish of the the third installment. As the series unfolds we learn more of Ivy & Bean's innocently-deviant ways, thoughts and desires through some lovely, delicate writing that shows, equally, the joys and frustrations of being a young girl.
The 4th "book" is the The Top Secret Treasure Box. It's a hollow book with a little nook containing a mini-journal/diary. The facade should prove the perfect hiding spot, allowing your girl to keep her private thoughts out of the hands of pesky brothers and sisters.
With the release of "Doomed to Dance" later this year, the Ivy & Bean series, which has sold more than 1/2 million books to date (yikes!), will be up to a 1/2 dozen books.
Don't delay, pick up The Ivy & Bean's Secret Treasure Box set now and start playing catch up on this wonderful series for girls ages 5-9.