by Annie Barrows
Second graders Ivy and Bean are stunned when a group of fifth graders share their very depressing report on global warming. They slump on a bench afterward and worry about polar bears and pollution. The whole class arrives at school the following day feeling a little bit sad. When Ms. Aruba-Tate announces that the second grade will participate in a science fair, her students share how discouraged they are. She encourages them to be a part of the solution, and to use science to help solve the world’s problems. She suggests that the science fair’s theme be “Ideas that Fight Global Warming.”
Now, Ivy and Bean simply have to think of a way to once-and-for-all stop global warming. The two girls discover that throwing ice cubes into the air to lower the temperature doesn’t work, tying their hands together to make humans less powerful has unintended consequences, and hammering rice to make clean energy just, well, makes rice dust. Then, Ivy says, “If grown-ups weren’t scared of nature, they’d probably try harder to save it from global warming” and their great idea for the science fair is born (Barrows, 96).
Always funny and engaging, Ivy and Bean tackle the big issue of global warming in a heartfelt and courageous way. The series’ characteristic meanderings and funny moments make this an age-appropriate look at an environmental problem. The ending of the book will touch any adult or child who has wanted to make a real difference in the world.
What’s the Big Idea? would make a great read-aloud for younger children to connect with scientific method as Ivy and Bean come up with ideas, try them out, and evaluate whether or not they work.
It could also be connected with an upcoming science fair, or used as a positive approach to studies about global warming or environmental problems.
This book especially shows how Ivy and Bean, while not hard scientists, can make a difference by using their natural charm, skills, and talents for communication to share how much they care about the earth. Before a day of service, or when brainstorming about ways to help in the community, share this book with students before having them think of their own particular talents and how those talents can help bring about big or small changes in the world.