Book Buddies: Ivy Lost and Found by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Book Buddies: Ivy Lost and Found by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. Candlewick Press, 2021. 9781536213546

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Meet the Book Buddies, a group of stuffed animals and dolls that can be borrowed from the library.  Among the collection of toys are Banjo the bear, Homer the owl, and a little mouse named Marco Polo.  Every two weeks, after storytime, young patrons are allowed to choose a special friend to check out and bring home for two weeks.  In this first book, the toys welcome a new doll named Ivy.  Ivy was the childhood favorite of Anne, the librarian.  Anne recently found Ivy in the attic; the doll was excited to be rediscovered by her old friend and was quite disappointed to be relegated to the Book Buddies.  When the children rush to the shelf to make their selections, the other toys are quickly scooped up, while Ivy tries to hide between the fluffy tail of Dazzle the unicorn.  But soon enough, Ivy is reluctantly picked up by an 8 year old girl named Fern; Fern’s step-sister Sophie has chosen Lilyanna, the princess doll, and little Ethan has taken Piper, the flying squirrel.

Fern is visiting her Dad’s new family for two weeks, and is frustrated by her new step-siblings and the fact that she doesn’t get any time alone with her father.  She goes outside to build a fairy house for Ivy, hoping to avoid the other kids for a little while, but they find her soon enough.  Bickering ensues, and the children run inside, leaving the three Book Buddies outside overnight.  With experience as a forgotten toy, Ivy finds herself able to reassure Piper and Lilyanna, and also discovers that being a Book Buddy means that she has some new friends and is destined for future adventures with children who will treasure her as much as Anne did.  

This is a charming introduction to a promising new early chapter book series; it is sweet without being saccharine, and cute without being cutesy.  Lord lays the groundwork for the series by introducing each of the toys and establishing the premise of the Book Buddies early on in the story, before moving on to the specific narrative about Ivy and Fern.  Black and white illustrations resembling simple pencil sketches bring the story to life, depicting the human and toy characters and important scenes on nearly every page spread.  

Anything you did not like about the book?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? 2nd and 3rd grade readers who have enjoyed gentle series like Cynthia Rylant’s Cobble Street Cousins or Lighthouse Family or Kate DiCamillo’s Tales From Deckawoo Drive will find a good fit with the Book Buddies, as will those who like classic ‘toys come to life’ stories like The Velveteen Rabbit, Paddington, or even Ann M. Martin’s Doll People books.  It would make a delightful read aloud for libraries (although longer than one sitting), and might inspire librarians to start a similar project.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Fiction/easy chapter books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: November 9, 2021

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