I’m a big fan of the Ivy + Bean series, so when the Ivy + Bean Button Factory (Chronicle, March) arrived in the office, it made its way to my desk (thanks, Katie!). For $12.99 you get enough materials to make fifteen buttons, featuring illustrations of Ivy and Bean by Sophie Blackall plus such quotable quotes from the books as “Easy-peasy” and “Dang.” The box says that downloadable bonus button designs can be found at the Chronicle Books website, along with a how-to video, neither of which I could track down. My six- and eleven-year-old daughters figured it out, though, and enjoyed making the buttons. I did eventually find the video, which features author Annie Barrows amusingly demonstrating, with a Girl Scout troop, how to make the buttons.
There are certainly fancier button-making kits out there for kids, but they cost twice as much—and, of course, they don’t feature pictures of this fab duo. However, I can’t quite see Ivy and Bean enjoying the button maker—it seems a tad tame for them. Wouldn’t they just use the pins to poke big sister/babysitter Nancy? Indeed, an online search led to an excellent list of the type of crafts and activities Ivy and Bean really find of interest. (And the materials involved are easy to locate—a banana, scotch tape, red twisty ties, and a soft place to fall, like a bed or sofa.) My advice? Forget the button maker and find a banana. Then check out even more neat Ivy and Bean activities on Chronicle’s website for free.