Annie Barrows, a Berkeley mom of two, is the author of the Ivy and Bean series for children, which has been adapted into a musical by The Bay Area Children’s Theater. Ivy and Bean: The Musical will have its world premiere on February 9 at 2pm at the Freight and Salvage. She answered a few questions for us about her favorite East Bay haunts.
What are your favorite places to spend 1:1 time with each of your daughters?
With my older daughter, both of us only feel entirely relaxed in the presence of books, so we like to go to bookstores together. Our around-town favorites are (of course) Books, Inc., on Fourth Street and Mrs. Dalloway’s on College. At a bookstore, we skulk around, dipping into books and making fun of book jackets and showing each other cartoons, and we generally walk out having spent more than we thought we would.
I love clothes shopping with my younger daughter, since she has very rigorous sense of style, but one of my favorite places to go with her is Joi nail salon on Solano Avenue. Not only do we end up with fancy toenails, but I get to listen to her commentary as she reads the salon’s magazines.
Where does your family like to eat dinner out?
One of the great things about having teenage kids is that they no longer throw food on the floor, cry, or barf in restaurants. This opens up a huge range of eating options. We can take them anywhere! Among our favorite spots are Bucci’s in Emeryville, Cugini on Solano Avenue, and Revival Bar and Kitchen in downtown Berkeley.
What is your favorite birthday gift idea for a teenager?
No household is complete without a Ouija board! Everybody wants to know the future! What a great present!
What's your favorite Sunday morning ritual?
I like to read the Weddings section of the New York Times and speculate, based on picture, parties’ current employment, and perceived interferingness of parents, on the likelihood of wedded bliss.
What is a great kid-friendly feature of your neighborhood?
Berkeley is fabulous because it comprises both outdoor fun and culture fun. There are wide-open vistas, trails, and hikes. And then there are concerts, film festivals, and rare book collections. On a given day, you can look at newts at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden AND go to a play, perhaps a musical, perhaps even Ivy and Bean: The Musical at the Freight and Salvage. What more could any parent ask for?
Wait, are there any specific scenes in your books that came from a real place in Berkeley? My kids would love to read the book and then go check it out.
Of course! The idea behind the second book in the series, Ivy and Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go, came from the fearsome haunted janitor's closet at Thousand Oaks Elementary School, which my kids attended. In the book, the portal of the ghost is a large white stain in the cement outside the bathroom, which is the exact replica of a large white stain in the cement outside the girl's bathroom at Thousand Oaks.
Thanks, Annie, for sharing your time with 510Families!