Penni for putting us onto Ivy and Bean!
In our house, for read-aloud popularity, this is the new Ramona, and I don't say that lightly. Even though Ivy and Bean are only seven, both Alice and Evie have responded with delight to their adventures. In fact, some of the nicest days of our holidays were those spent inside, with me reading an Ivy & Bean book while Alice painted or built a treehouse for her Sylvanian families, and Evie messed around on the computer. The books are just short enough to finish in a single session (though the days when the girls demanded multiple readings were a bit hard on my throat!)
These books are absolutely charming, but not at all saccharine. Bean is energetic, untidy, bursting with enthusiasm, a little bit naughty. Ivy is quieter, a reader of big books; she is practising to be a witch when she grows up, and is full of good ideas. Together they make an irresistible team. These books are small scale and suburban, bounded by the backyards of Pancake Court, the school and the local park. But the girls' schemes are anything but dull. They tackle global warming, Great Women of History, digging for dinosaurs, and bravely exorcise a ghost in the school toilets (not Moaning Myrtle). And they are funny - not try-hard funny, not gross-out funny, just gently, believably, real-life funny.
The stories (written by Annie Barrows) are perfect and the illustrations are gorgeous too (I was chuffed to discover that the illustrator, Sophie Blackall, is an Australian living in New York).
Our only complaint is that there are only nine books in the series (so far) and we've already read them all.
As Evie would say, 'Sad face.'