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
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.
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
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.
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)