Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World

( 178 )

Overview

Ida B. Applewood believes there is never enough time for fun.

That's why she's so happy to be homeschooled and to spend every free second outside with the trees and the brook.

Then some not-so-great things happen in her world. Ida B has to go back to that Place of Slow but Sure Body-Cramping, Mind-Numbing, Fun-Killing Torture—school. She feels her heart getting smaller and smaller and hardening into a sharp, ...

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Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World

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Overview

Ida B. Applewood believes there is never enough time for fun.

That's why she's so happy to be homeschooled and to spend every free second outside with the trees and the brook.

Then some not-so-great things happen in her world. Ida B has to go back to that Place of Slow but Sure Body-Cramping, Mind-Numbing, Fun-Killing Torture—school. She feels her heart getting smaller and smaller and hardening into a sharp, black stone.

How can things go from righter than right to a million miles beyond wrong? Can Ida B put together a plan to get things back to just-about perfect again?

In Wisconsin, fourth-grader Ida B spends happy hours being home-schooled and playing in her family's apple orchard, until her mother begins treatment for breast cancer and her parents must sell part of the orchard and send her to public school.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Ida B, an eccentric, homeschooled 9-year-old, seems to have an idyllic life. But then her mom becomes ill, and Ida B heads off to dreaded public school. She tells her story with impeccable comic timing and achingly honest emotions, and her resilience when life has "gone from just about righter than right to a million miles beyond wrong" will touch readers long after the book's happy ending. (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004 >Child magazine
Publishers Weekly
This insightful, seemingly intuitive first novel digs deep inside the soul of 9-year-old narrator Ida B Applewood. Home-schooled since kindergarten, Ida B is perfectly content spending all of her free time alone outdoors, talking to the brook and the trees in the orchard (all of whom she has named). Hannigan characterizes Ida B's relationship with nature as integral to her being; when Ida B's father tells her, "We are the earth's caretakers," she replies, "I think the earth takes care of us, too." Then her mother is diagnosed with cancer, and Ida B's world turns upside down. Her parents must sell part of her beloved orchard to pay the medical bills, and Ida B must enroll in public school. In subtle ways, the author demonstrates how these events shake the heroine to the core. Ida B, feeling betrayed by her parents, powerless to save her trees, and determined to hate Ernest B. Lawson Elementary School, allows her heart to turn into "a sharp, black stone... so hard nobody could break it and so sharp it would hurt anybody who touched it." Through the first-person narration, Hannigan lets readers see Ida B's sense of humor and the compassion beneath her armor. It takes time and the gentle prodding from a sensitive teacher for Ida B's heart to soften enough for her to appreciate the things that are steadfast: her parents' love, friendship and the pleasure she receives from reading aloud. Those who have been forced to make uncomfortable adjustments will identify with the heroine's attitude-taking family hardships as personal attacks-and will understand Ida B's reluctance to let go of the old and make room for the new. Hannigan shows a remarkable understanding of a stubborn child's perspective in her honest, poignant portrayal of loss and rebirth. Ages 9-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Inquisitive Ida B. Applewood loves nature. This imaginative fourth-grader names, listens, and talks to trees and the brook in her family's Wisconsin orchard. Ida B. carefully plans everything. She convinces her parents to home school her. Ida B.'s life, isolated from peers, seems perfect until changes she is unprepared for abruptly alter her world. She angrily reacts when her parents force her to return to school because her mother's cancer overwhelms them. Ida B. refuses to communicate when her parents sell land where her beloved trees live to pay for treatments. Self-absorbed, she is unable to realize her parents' losses and acts out her resentment on classmates. Ida B. posts warning signs and confronts her new neighbors, hoping that plan will save her trees. Her compassionate parents and teacher help Ida B. reconcile her conflicting emotions and formulate future plans for planting a new orchard. Ida B. wisely tells her father that the Earth nurtures humans. This book provides information about recycling, including statistics relevant to the printing of this novel. Ida B. would be thrilled that her story was printed on recycled paper. This novel inspires ecology discussions and projects. Readers will find characters sharing Ida B.'s affinity for protecting trees in Wendelin Van Draanen's, Flipped (2001), and Rob Thomas's, Green Thumb (1999). 2004, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, and Ages 10 up.
—Elizabeth D. Schafer
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-As an only child, Ida B has had plenty of time to indulge her creative bent. She makes miniature rafts, to which she attaches notes with questions such as, "What is life like in Canada?" Acres of apple trees are her friends, and she enjoys long conversations with Beulah, Pastel, Henry VIII, and other trees. She lives life to the fullest, firmly believing there is never enough time for fun. When her mother develops cancer, her parents sell part of the orchard and send Ida B to public school rather than homeschooling her. The changes leave her feeling fiercely angry and betrayed. With the help of a wise and caring fourth-grade teacher and the enduring love of Mama and Daddy, the girl slowly begins to heal. Ida B is a true character in every sense of the word. Through a masterful use of voice, Hannigan's first-person narration captures an unforgettable heroine with intelligence, spirit, and a unique imagination. The rural but otherwise undefined setting works well in taking a backseat to the characterization. With just the right amount of tension in the plot, a spot-on grasp of human emotions, and Ida B's delightful turns of phrase, this book begs to be read aloud. Regardless of how tight the budget, don't pass it up.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When Ida B's mother undergoes cancer treatment, the idyllically secure world that has informed her character crumbles. With her mother seemingly cut off from her by illness, with the family finances in ruin from medical costs, Ida B's beleaguered parents terminate her home schooling and sell off some of their orchard land for development. Ida B, believing she can no longer trust anyone, hardens her heart to even the kindest overtures and declares war: against her family, against her new teacher and classmates, and most determinedly against herself. Readers are intimate witnesses to her inner struggle. Hannigan has a rich way with metaphor, whether it is describing the natural world of trees, which are literally alive to Ida B, or the ever-deepening anger to which she clings. If the ending is a predictable reconciliation, this preternaturally sensitive and precocious child reaches it, not through the intervention of supportive adults, but through the puzzling out of her own difficulties-even after many false starts. A poignant, affirming, and often funny debut from a promising new author. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060730260
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/26/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 84,687
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Hannigan

Katherine Hannigan's first novel, Ida B . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World was a New York Times bestseller, a Book Sense bestseller, and a Parents' Choice Gold Award winner. She lives in northeastern Iowa.

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First Chapter

Ida B
. . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World

Chapter One

"Ida B," Mama said to me on one of those days that start right and just keep heading toward perfect until you go to sleep, "when you're done with the dishes, you can go play. Daddy and I are going to be working till dinner."

"Yes, ma'am," I said back, but I said it like this, "Yes, may-uhm!" because I couldn't wait to get on with my business. I could already hear the brook calling to me through the back door screen. "C'mon out and play, Ida B. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up." I had three places I wanted to visit, six things I wanted to make, and two conversations I hoped to have before dinnertime.

Mama was washing, Daddy was drying, and I was putting away the dishes from lunch. And I knew that the moment I set the last pan in its place, I was free. But the way those two were chatting and laughing and acting like we had till next week to finish up, I could see it was going to be a while.

My insides started itching and my feet started hopping, one then the other, because they were ten minutes past being ready to go. So I decided to speed things up a bit.

Daddy'd hand me a dish, I'd sprint to the cupboard and put it away, race back again, and put my hand out for the next one, with my right foot tap, tap, tapping the seconds that were ticking by.

"Hold your horses, Ida B," Daddy told me. "There's plenty of time to do whatever you're planning." And he passed me a plate, slow and easy.

Well, that stopped me in my tracks. Because what Daddy said might have seemed all right to him, but it was sitting about two miles beyond wrong with me. I wasn't going to be able to put away another tiny teaspoon till I set things straight.

"Daddy," I said, and I waited till he was looking at me before I went on.

"Yes, Ida B," he answered, turning toward me.

And staring right into his eyeballs I told him, "There is never enough time for fun."

Daddy's eyes opened wide, and for a half second I wondered if I was in for something close to trouble. But then the two ends of his mouth turned up, just a little.

"Ida B," he told the ceiling while he shook his head.

"Hmmmmm," Mama said, like a smile would sound if it could.

And as soon as Daddy handed me the big frying pan, I set it in the drawer next to the oven, and I was on my way.

"Come on, Rufus," I called to Daddy's old floppy-eared dog, who was napping under the table. "You can come, too, so you'll have some company."

Now, a school of goldfish could go swimming in the pool of drool that dog makes while he's sleeping. But as soon as he heard his name and saw me heading for outside he jumped up, cleaned up the extra slobber around his mouth, and in two and one-half seconds' time, he was waiting for me at the back door.

Ida B
. . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World
. Copyright © by Katherine Hannigan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

About the Book

Ida B savors life and creates her own pleasure -- playing in the brook, climbing trees, planning her days and nights, inventing time-saving devices, and walking her floppy eared dog Rufus, who slobbers to high heaven. What she doesn't understand is why her mama develops cancer, or why her daddy reluctantly decides to sell some of their land, or why she has to go to public school instead of being home-schooled. Ida B doesn't like the changes, and before she is finally able to accept what she can't change, she has to learn some of life's most difficult lessons.

Discussion Questions

  1. On two occasions Ida B says to her daddy, "I think the earth takes care of us" (pages 32, 244). What does Ida B mean by this statement?

  2. One of Ida B's beliefs is that "good plans are the best way to maximize fun, avoid disaster, and possibly, save the world" (page 38). What situations in the book illustrate that she acts on this belief? Does her planning achieve the goals she expects? Why or why not?

  3. After attending public school kindergarten for one day, Ida B tells her mama that kindergarten has "Too many rules and not enough time for fun" (page 50). And she describes school as "that particular Place of Slow but Sure Body-Cramping, Mind-Numbing, Fun-Killing Torture" (page 58). How does Ida B's attitude toward school make it difficult for her to be herself when she goes back to public school four years later?

  4. Ida B is convinced that the trees, the brook, and the stars listen to her and respond to her questions—and even call to her when she doesn't visit them. How does her belief about nature affect her actions? How does it sustain her during difficult times?

  5. When Ida B's mama develops cancer, trouble and sadness infect Ida B's house and life. How do those changes affect Ida B? What does she do to adjust to the changes?

  6. When Ida B's daddy sells off part of their land and forces her to go back to public school, Ida B quits talking to her parents and shuts herself up. Why does she respond with such uncharacteristic hostility? Is she justified in her actions?

  7. Growing frustrated with her attitude, Ida B's daddy yells at her several times, which is out of character for him. Why does he react this way? Is he justified?

  8. Accepting the fact that she must obey her father, Ida B makes a vow to herself and (secretly) to him. She thinks, "All right, Daddy . . . I'll do what you say. I'll go back to Ernest B. Lawson Elementary School. But I won't like it. I won't like the people who buy the land, and I won't like my teacher, or the kids in my class, or the ride on the bus. And I won't like you or Mama, either" (page 88). Does Ida B keep her vow? Who is hurt most by this vow? Why?

  9. Ida B's teacher, Ms. Washington, wisely doesn't push Ida B to make friends or join the games at recess. How does she finally break through to Ida B's cold heart?

  10. Ida B helps Ronnie learn his multiplication tables and they "sort of" become friends, even though she won't talk to him in public if they aren't working on math. Does her relationship with Ronnie help open the door to other friendships?

  11. Ida B is relentless in her determination to run the new people off her land. What does she try to do to scare them off? Is she successful? Why or why not?

  12. What specific event shows Ida B that she needs to make a change in her attitude and behavior? Are her "how to" plans successful? Why or why not?

  13. What do you think Ida B means when she says "Apologizing is like spring-cleaning" (page 222)?

  14. After Ida B makes her rounds and apologizes to all those she had hurt by being mean, her attitude changes. Do Ida B's actions change as a result of her softer heart?

  15. Ida B finally understands that the "land and the mountain and the trees and the stars . . . weren't mine at all, and never would be. But in some ways they'd always belong to me, and I couldn't imagine not belonging to them" (page 245). How would you explain what Ida B means by that?

About the Author

Katherine Hannigan has taught art and design at the university level. She lives in northeastern Iowa.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 178 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(113)

4 Star

(39)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 178 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    You should really read this book

    This was an amazing book with a powerful lesson. The story was realistic and you could apply it to situations in your own life. Ida B was a hilarious character, and I enjoyed every page of this book.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2011

    Sweetest book ever!

    I read this book in a week and couldn't put it down the entire time! It's so precious and touching! It made me laugh and cry and it made me get mad at the people in it! This is the kind of book that makes a teen want to be a little girl again! MUST READ!!!!!!!

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Great book

    I didnt buy this book on my nook but i am reading it in my class. After reading just 10 pages i was hooked my teacher had to pry me off the book it is very touching and teaching every person would love this! You have to get it if you don't i promise you ,you will regret it!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 20, 2012

    check it out!

    Ida B…and her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World

    Have you ever had an imaginary fiend? One that will always be with you, always is there to talk too, and always on your side? The main character in the story, Ida B, has many imaginary friends, but they aren’t your typical imaginary friends. Ida B’s imaginary friends are trees, bushes, and streams that live in his backyard. This book is a perfect choice for young readers. Not only is it easy to read but also it captures the reader’s attention quickly. I’m usually not the type to finish a book or even read it, but this book grabbed my attention like no other.

    This book doesn’t have much suspense, but it does have a lot of drama. Ida B had a life you could only dream of, her life goes from perfect to horrible in a matter of a month. Ida B is home schooled until her mother starts to get sick. Her mother getting sick ruins the atmosphere of their perfect household. The sickness effects of course Ida B, her dad, their dog, and the ability to do things they used to do. It really makes you realize how something so good can turn to so horrible in a flash.

    The characters in this book are just what you would imagine. The father is the leader of the family, strict, protective, and wise, while the mother, is more on the calmer and nicer side. Ida B is the all around playful nine year old as people would expect. She likes to go outside, get dirty and be adventurous. Even though she is a girl she acts more boyish than a normal girl would act. She doesn’t have any real friends but the trees and bushes in her backyard because she is home schooled. In her extra time she likes to go outside and talk to them and predict what they would say back to her. You might say she has a huge imagination.
    The plot is very intense. The conflict is man vs himself. One day Ida B is running around and having fun and the next day she has to go back to public school, which she hates. Not only does she have to go back to public school but also she has to come home to a sick mother and a clueless father. All this stress has really gotten to Ida B. She refuses to make friends at school and even look like she is enjoying herself. She takes all her anger out on her imaginary friends ( the trees and bushes) and soon has no one to talk to.

    I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books with drama. This book has very happy parts and very sad parts. I have to say, its probably one of the best books a young reader could read. I’ve enjoyed reading this book and I’m sure you will too.

    .

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Bravo

    I love this book also because i went to school and then home schooled for a very long time this year i went back to school and i hate it but i have lots of friends at least it was the best book ever

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2011

    Awesome! Must read

    I love this book,! Read it 4 times! Quick read but really worth it! It made me cry and you will wish there would be a 2nd! Cant put it down! Please read you will be impressed! Very touching and makes you want to chase your dreams.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    Amazing book

    This book will make you cry and laugh. This is a must read, i read it in third grade and now in 6 th im reading it again and it's still AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2013

    Just an amazing book

    This book was so wonderful happy and sad at the same time and i loved how the author put it together

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2013

    great for kids af all ages who enjoy a good strory with a message woven into it

    i give it five stars i read this book when i was in 5th grade and i fell in love instantly. it grabs your attention as soon as u turn the page and u cant pit it down i loved it

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2011

    How old does this range?

    Im in 6th would this be good for me?

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    Awesome

    This book really wanted to make me cry !!!! But it was soooo awesome!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    Great book

    It was a very good book. I suggest this to all ages. I love the auther

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2011

    Extrorninary

    I have to say to all of you readers out their that Ida B would absolutly be one of my favorite books I have ever read. The author did a exellent job when composing this book. I fully recommend this book to every one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2013

    Ida b. Whitneys review

    Ida has a lot of ups and downs like being hoomeschooled and going to public school. I feel lkke her sometimes especily when shes at recess and she says no whenever she gets asked to play she doesnt really follow the crwod shes indapendant thats only becase she dosent like public school. The hardest time she had was when her mom had cancer and lost her hair and would just lay in bed. Ida B. Missed her mom reading to her and all the other things she did for her. Another reason she didnt like public school was because they did not call her Ida B. The teacher said " this is 3rd grade we dont go by nicknames" or something like that. It kept me feeling her pain like i was her. I felt like i was her doing everything she did. Like I was liveing her life. I enjoyed this book so much i hope u do to! Best wishes : Whitney L.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2013

    Wonderfully Written

    This is the world through the eyes of a young girl, happy as a lark until an unfortunate event. This tells of how she tries to deal with her new situation, and what she learns on the way. Funny at times, sad other times, but beautifully portrayed characterization.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Im a 13yr old girl and need advie

    I have read part of this book befor but never finished it if u think i should finish tell me

    From- Peyton L. xoxo
    Thx 4 yur advice!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    To awsome

    I havent read the book yet but my freind always talks about it- so have to agree.*****-five stars-Whitney

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Emma heyy

    Heyy

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Wonderful!

    I loved this book myself then let my 10.year old granddaughter read it and she LOVED it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2012

    Pros and Cons

    Ida B is a well-written book, but it does not have much suspense and put me in a bad mood for about 48 hours after I read it. Usually I read books over and over again, but I did not do that with this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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