Ida B --and her plans to maximize fun, avoid disaster, and (possibly) save the world

Katherine Hannigan

Book - 2004

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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Subjects
Published
New York : Greenwillow Books 2004.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
246 p.
ISBN
0060730250
0060730242
Main Author
Katherine Hannigan (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 4-6. Ida B is happy with her life. She talks to the trees in her family's orchard, enjoys being homeschooled, and is trying to be a good steward of the earth. But after her mother gets cancer, part of their land must be sold, and Ida B is forced to start public school, something her parents promised she wouldn't have to do after a bad kindergarten experience. Once her world changes, Ida B changes, too; her sunny disposition turns steely gray. As Ida puts it, she hardens her heart, and the very resilience of her anger is something to behold. First-time novelist Hannigan avoids many of the pitfalls of new writers, bypassing obvious plotting; Ida's mother's cancer, for instance, is a reference point, not a story line. What this really concerns is the fury children can experience, the tenacity with which they can hold on to their anger, and their inability to back away once the emotion no longer serves them. Hannigan gets it down brilliantly. Sometimes Ida's fourth-grade, first-person voice sounds like Junie B. Jones with a linguistic bent gone wild, but it's definitely unique, and Ida's ability to articulate her feelings will warm children, who will understand just what she's talking about. ((Reviewed August 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

"Hannigan shows a remarkable understanding of a stubborn child's perspective, in this honest portrayal of loss and rebirth," said PW in our Best Books citation. All ages. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Having entered her Black Period, Ida B. Applewood is facing some challenging times and so must turn to her loyal pets, a dedicated teacher, and the beauty of her favorite apple tree to get through it all, in an entertaining coming-of-age tale. Reader's Guide available.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Who is Ida B. Applewood? She is a fourth grader like no other, living a life like no other, with a voice like no other, and her story will resonate long after you have put this book down. How does Ida B cope when outside forces -- life, really -- attempt to derail her and her family and her future? She enters her Black Period, and it is not pretty. But then, with the help of a patient teacher, a loyal cat and dog, her beloved apple trees, and parents who believe in the same things she does (even if they sometimes act as though they don't), the resilience that is the very essence of Ida B triumph...and Ida B. Applewood takes the hand that is extended and starts to grow up. This first novel is both very funny and extraordinarily moving, and it introduces two shining stars -- Katherine Hannigan and Ida B. Applewood.