Module 4 Book Reviews–Realistic Fiction

Ivy and Bean by  Annie Barrows



This book centers around the life of 7 year old Bean.  When she sees the new girl, Ivy, across the street she just knows that they will never be friends.  One fateful day, that all changes.  Bean has an older sister whom she just loves to play pranks on and annoy.  When one of her tricks goes awry, Ivy jumps in to rescue her.  From then on out these two girls are inseparable.

Barrows, A.  (2006).  Ivy and Bean.  California:  Chronicle Books, LLC.

My impressions


I don’t think the plot is the most interesting of plots, but for the reading level and age appropriateness the plot is believable and pertinent.  The story is about two girls, Ivy and Bean.  Ivy has just moved into town and Bean seems to be the neighborhood troublemaker.  Together they get into mischief typical of young girls like dressing up like a witch, mixing potions and playing pranks on older siblings.  As soon as I started reading it I remembered being that young and had a moment of nostalgia thinking about my best friend and I.  We actually met in a similar fashion, I was the new girl in town and was very much like Ivy (right down to the curly red hair and witch costume!).


Is it any good?

Making the jump from a short, early reader to a chapter book is a huge milestone for the beginning reader. IVY AND BEAN makes it easier with its large-print, easy-to-follow text, expressive illustrations — and, most importantly, two colorful 7-year-old girls. Reminiscent of the classic Beverly Cleary series about Ramona, here’s another book series about friendship, silliness, pranks, adventure, getting in trouble, and challenges with siblings, that’s a sure hit with kids.

So typical of real life, these girls, who are neighbors, are urged by their respective mothers to play together. Ivy appears quiet, dainty, dutiful; and Bean is wild, dirty, and full of sass. Not until they join forces against Bean’s older sister do they discover each other’s unique qualities. Ivy is actually studying to become a witch. Bean knows how to move through the neighborhood via backyards. Here’s to the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Gelman, P.  Review for Ivy and Bean.  Retrieved from



This would be a great book to use for a book talk for grades 1-3, maybe including books such as Junie B. Jones and Ramona.  Going to classes might not be an option, so a mother/daughter book club might find all of these to be interesting reads.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson



Melinda Sordino is an outcast in her freshman year of high school. She doesn’t say much and at first readers are confused as to why she is in such a mood, refuses to talk to her mother and avoids friends.   Her best friend, Rachel, won’t talk to her and Melinda feels as if she has no one.   Going back and forth from the present to the past more and more details are revealed to let readers know what happened to her that made her close down and become silent.  Harsh teenage realities are brought to life in this painfully truthful novel.

Anderson, L.  (1999).  Speak.  New York:  Penguin Group.

My impressions

I was left speechless by the end of this book.  It was a page turner and I couldn’t put it down until I knew what had happened.  Anderson’s fast paced style made this book a quick read.  Her descriptions made it easy to remember what it was like to be a teen and I was able to connect with the main character.  The events and emotions that are associated with being a teen were accurate and I couldn’t help but feel like I was walking in Melinda’s shoes, a pair of shoes that no one should ever have to walk in.


Just in time for the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (FSG, 1999) is under attack once again. This time, Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University, is cautioning parents of the Republic School District against what he refers to as “soft porn” books used in the curriculum, including Speak, which is about rape.

Scroggins’s op-ed piece in Missouri’s News-Leader has generated more than 300 comments on the newspaper’s website, is the topic of several blog posts, and prompted its own Twitter feed (#SpeakLoudly).


Can you share an example of how Speak has made a difference in someone’s life?

I have heard from many survivors of sexual assault who told me that they didn’t dare tell anyone about being attacked. They held in the physical and emotional trauma, sometimes for decades. Often they turned to drugs, alcohol, or cutting to cope with the emotional pain. Then they read Speak. Melinda gave them the courage to speak up for the first time, to tell what happened, and to get the help they deserved. I have heard from even more people who were not raped, but who found a piece of themselves in Melinda. Her story strengthened them, too.

These are excerpts from a review to find the full article click the link below.

Staino, R.  (2010, October 13). Anderson’s Speak Under Attack Again (Review of Speak).  Retrived from


I like to do outreach at different locations.  This book would be a good one for a book discussion with a rape support group.  Speak would let women and men know they were not alone.  I believe that getting this information out is important and the more we can show a group like this that they have options and have even more support at the library the better.


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