{book} ivy+bean make the rules

make the rules coverIvy + Bean Make the Rules (bk 9)

written by Annie Barrows

 illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Chronicle Books, 2012.

Hardcover, 127 pages.

Ivy + Bean is a series for young grade-schoolers that I just cannot resist following, even now that Natalya has “outgrown” them. And yet, who was that blue-haired young lady giggling from behind a book and coming up to me to set it down with a satisfied sigh? “Oh, mom, the zombie-part was awesome. And the Komodo-catcher…; and the…” I love Ivy + Bean.*

Bean’s older sister, Nancy, is going to Girl Power 4-Ever Camp, where she will do Crafts and Music and First Aid and other secret things that Bean will never know about because girls have to be eleven to go to Girl Power 4-Ever Camp. Bean doesn’t care. She doesn’t want to go to camp. She wouldn’t go even if they begged her. So ha. So ha ha. So — wait a second! Bean and Ivy can make their own camp, their own better camp. Welcome to Camp Flaming Arrow, where counselors Ivy and Bean will give a whole new meaning to Crafts, Music, First Aid, and hands-on learning!—jacket copy

Feeling a bit sorry for the younger daughter who WILL NOT go to Puppet Fun! the only camp for her age-group, Bean’s mom thinks Bean is finally old enough—if accompanied by Ivy—to go to Monkey Park without supervision. This means Bean is not constrained to Pancake Court or stuck figuring out how to build a tree house in the front yard with only one board. Using a flier from Nancy’s camp as a guide, Ivy and Bean decide to host their own camp, slinging old curtains over a low hanging branch in Monkey Park to make a tent. It doesn’t hurt that they can compare notes with Girl Power 4-Ever (a day camp) who is using Monkey Park, too–as are several other summer day camps actually.

make the rules p36-37

It isn’t long before Ivy and Bean find themselves with two campers who are visiting a relative who is not all that interested in keeping them entertained. This makes “Crafts” even more interesting where making friendship bracelets (like Girl Power 4-Ever) quickly morphs into Houdini cuffs from which Ivy shows them how to escape.

Ivy and Bean looked at each other with shining eyes. This was going to be good. No one ever let them make the rules.

“Rule number one!” said Bean. “You can only have as much fun as you are willing to get hurt!”

“What?” said Franny.

“Rule two!” said Ivy. “Live and learn!” Her mom said that a lot.

“Rule three!” yelled Bean. “The counselor is always right!”

Ivy began to giggle. “Rule four! If you want to make an omelet, you’re going to have to break some eggs!”

“If you can’t beat’em, join’em!” bellowed Bean.

“Don’t get mad, get even!” yelled Ivy.

“I don’t think this is a real camp,” said Franny.

“Time for crafts!” shouted Bean. (58-9).

As they work their way down the list of activities throughout the week, Camp Flaming Arrow expands in number under Ivy and Bean’s on-the-fly interpretations of what each activity on the flier might involve: “Nature Study, Mind/Body Strength Training, Drama, First Aid, Dance, Social Skills, Plus! Our Role Models: great Women of History.” Drama and First Aid were artfully combined in a chapter titled “Zombie Problem in Monkey Park.” Yeah, how did we ever manage First Aid without face paint and bandages? Ivy and Bean (and cohorts) are at their bold and creative best in Make the Rules.

The hilarious and disruptive escapades are enough of a reason to read Make the Rules, but the comparison to Camp Flaming Arrow to others that promise “Hands-On Learning in a Safe and Supportive Atmosphere” (Girl Power 4-Ever flier, p 13) is amusing—and poignant when, for instance, you compare Bean’s sense of “girl power” to Nancy’s on page 100 (parentheticals mine): “I can’t get up and dance with a wart,” wailed Nancy. “Everyone will think I’m gross!” She ran out of the kitchen. She was crying. (the wart is on her knuckle.) Bean’s mother sighed. She looked over at Bean (who had missed her earlier cue to not “see” the wart), and then she followed Nancy. Bean watched her go, frowning. What was that all about?” Another instance? Ivy shared about and then led an army as Briton Queen Boudicca (also known as Boadicea) for their “Great Woman of History,” Nancy mentions they had a slide show.

“Long live the queen!” yelled Franny.

“Yah! Yah!” squalled the tiny kids.

Their squalling made all their moms look up, and once those moms looked up, they started losing their minds. Something about sticks poking eyes. In no time at all, Boudicca’s warriors were kicked out of the fountain.

“I guess we’d better quit,” said Bean, squeezing out her shirt.

Ivy nodded, dumping the last of the Romans into the garbage can.

“This was the best day yet,” said Leo. (114)

a quick bit about the illustrations. long-time readers will remember that I adore Sophie Blackall’s work. Blackall and Barrows make for a great team, so highly expressive in text and image, the illustrations keeping good balance/timing with the text. Blackall adds fun detail to the creation of all the personalities we encounter in the stories, not just Ivy + Bean who are awesomely rendered. I’m sure I go on and on in my reviews of Books 7 & 8 (linked below).


recommendations: boys or girls, early readers 5-8 are the targeted age. for the fun, free-spirited sort kid who likes to laugh (so any child). a good gift for the child of your helicopter parent friend, and/or any child who can appreciate the factoid we find on page 94-5, “[Komodo dragons] don’t poop!”. This is a phenomenal series about friendship, childhood, and creative thinking.


check out the Ivy+Bean site via Chronicle Books; they have activities for kids and teachers, much more organized and directed than the muses themselves, of course. Be sure to click on the author and illustrator links at the first, as well.

my reviews of: Ivy + Bean: Book 7: What’s the Big Idea? and Ivy + Bean: Book 8 : No News is Good News

* and bless a Powell’s staffer for loving it, too, because it is, as of this date, on-sale. 30% off (follow book title link).

{all images belong to Sophie Blackall}

Published by L

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

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