a Blackall connection (1)

Sophie Blackall is one of my favorite Illustrators, children’s books or no*. When I try to think of just one word to describe her work: Vivacious comes to mind. Odd, I know, but it works. Her Illustrations are “attractively lively and animated.”** She is one of those Illustrators whom I will read the book because their artwork is featured.


I found Ms. Blackall via the Ivy + Bean Books written by Annie Barrows. And really it was her illustrations that had me picking up that first book, Ivy and Bean (2006), off that out-facing new release display. I have since come to adore both the Author Annie Barrows and her Ivy + Bean Series and we pick up every new one even though the daughter has since grown out of the book’s better-situated audience. We don’t let these things get in the way of a delightful reading experience.

“Two friends who never meant to like each other”

One of the reasons I really enjoy Ivy and Bean is Barrows’ original stories and her fantastic and utterly relevant premise to the series. From Barrows’ Ivy and Bean site:

One of the big problems of being a kid is that your parents often try to make you play with people you don’t really like. My parents were forever trying to get me to like the kids of their friends. These kids were often weird. I didn’t want to play with them. It was a problem.

I remembered that when I was writing the first Ivy and Bean. Ivy and Bean are very different. Bean is loud and wild and goofy. She loves to be involved in games and poke her nose in other people’s business. Ivy is quiet and full of ideas. She spends most of her time learning how to be a witch. Each girl thinks the other one is weird. Each girl thinks she could never be friends with the other. Especially because their parents keep nagging them about it.

But sometimes opposites can become the best of friends because they’re opposites. For example, people who like to talk need people who like to listen. And people with great ideas need people who can put those ideas into action. For Ivy and Bean, their differences mean that they have more fun together than they could ever have separately. It also means that, together, they do more wacky things than any one kid could ever dream up.  The Ivy and Bean books are about the adventures—and disasters—created by this unlikely team. And since their motto seems to be “Why not?” there’s every reason to believe that their capers and catastrophes will continue for quite a while.

Ivy + Bean: Book 7: What’s The Big Idea? By Annie Barrows

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Chronicle Books, 2010.

(hardback) 131 pages.

I just finished Ivy + Bean: Book 7: What’s The Big Idea? and found it amusing as usual–laughing aloud and showing the pictures to my husband. It is one of the best of the series. And I am going to recommend it to my Eco-Criticism Professor.

After the 5th graders scare the 2nd graders w/ global warming and the imminent death of the polar bears, the teacher suggests that for their science fair projects they come up with exhibits for how to fight Global Warming.

To the reader’s amusement, Ivy and Bean struggle to come up with a viable idea. There are several creative projects, but Ivy and Bean steal the show. Their solution is fantastic—absolutely brilliant.

Their solution is so obvious, and so crucial; I was pleasantly surprised to find it in a younger grade school book; elegantly wrapped in Ivy and Bean’s adventures.


* per the Oxford English Dictionary.

** check out Blackall’s “Missed Connections” blog.


Sophie Blackall's blog. Blackall's Etsy shop. Annie Barrow's Ivy & Bean site.
The blog "7 Impossible Things before Breakfast" had this wonderful interview w/ Blackall.


the (1) is due to the fact I was going to “review” 2 books with a Sophie Blackall connection, but the 2nd was  becoming lengthy and a bit negative (having more to do with the story, not the illustrations), so I will post (2) on Monday instead.

Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

3 thoughts on “a Blackall connection (1)

thoughts? would love to hear them...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: