Ivy & Bean
Laurel's reading took flight last year in kindergarten, and with it she developed a love for chapter books. And while the novelty of seeing her curled up reading independently on the sofa under a blanket has not worn off on me, we still love cuddling up and reading together. On the latter, though I appreciated the series' gentle age appropriateness, I admittedly was hugely relieved when Laurel got over her obsession with the formulaic (as in, I literally would fall asleep reading the books out loud) Rainbow Magic books, and moved on to something Jon and I also find entertaining: Ivy + Bean.
My friend Nicola introduced us to Annie Barrows' Ivy + Bean characters via the gift of book 1, and after rereading that book several times, we've gradually acquired and enjoyed books 2 and 3. Ivy and Bean are a plucky and seemingly mismatched pair, and through the telling of their imaginative and quirky adventures, Barrows manages to infuse humor that's palatable for both kids and grownups, and capture the mischievous yet ultimately well meaning spirit of elementary school students perfectly. The other night as Laurel and I were chuckling over one of the books, I asked her why she thought Ivy and Bean were so funny and she paused, giggled, then hit the nail right on the head: "Well, Bean is so funny and Ivy is so focused but somehow they manage to be friends!"
Apparently there are seven books in the series; the boxed sets are a bargain compared to buying the books individually. Boxed set 1 includes books 1-3 and I plan on picking up boxed set 2 (books 4-6) for Laurel for Christmas. Perhaps by the time we finish reading and rereading the first 6 books, book 7 will have have company in a third boxed set. Here's to hoping!