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Ride a Pale Horse
Helen MacInnes
The Samurai's Wife
Laura Joh Rowland
Ivy and Bean - Annie Barrows, Sophie Blackall This book was recommended to my niece, nephew, and me by Cheryl in CCNV, and it was a good recommendation! My niece loved this book! I think she identified with the main characters. She understood their friendship and their motivations, and enjoyed the growth of their relationship. She was excited by the story almost immediately, and urged me to read multiple chapters to her in one sitting, which is rare.

My nephew also listened to the story, and he seemed to enjoy it to a certain extent. He seemed to have a surprisingly good grasp on the complexities of the sibling relationship, and really seemed to identify with Bean's frustration with her older sister (no surprise there). He did tell me he didn't like the book, but for a four year old, he sure did sit quietly and listen to me read it!

This was one of the more entertaining and compelling chapter books for budding readers that I've read in a long time. The girls are complex and realistic, and their friendship is endearing. The story is very well written, and there is a nice balance between pictures and text. I really enjoyed this book as a story. That said, though, the responsible adult in me noted that the girls do kind of push the boundaries of "acceptable behavior," so parents may wish to screen the Ivy and Bean books to determine if they are appropriate for their kids.