Ida B : --and her plans to maximize fun, avoid disaster, and (possibly) save the world / Katherine Hannigan.
Booklist Reviews 2004 August #1
/*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.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
Ida B lives a bucolic life on her family's Wisconsin farm as a cherished, home-schooled girl, with plenty of time to talk to trees (which, by the way, talk back). But when her mother is diagnosed with cancer, everything changes. With her strong insight and quirky way of putting things, first-time author Hannigan is clearly an author to watch. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #6
Ida B lives a bucolic life on her family's Wisconsin farm as a cherished, home-schooled girl, with plenty of time to talk to trees (which, by the way, talk back). But when her mother is diagnosed with cancer, her parents are worried and preoccupied; some of their beloved apple orchard must be sold to pay the bills; and, worst of all, Ida B must attend school. She remembers her regimented and unimaginative kindergarten well, and she is stunned that her parents would send her back. Her anger develops into a steely rage, and even when Ida B is tempted to respond to her kind teacher, to a classmate, or to her parents, she deliberately hardens her heart against them all. What first-time author Hannigan catches extraordinarily well is the realistic depth of Ida's fury. She shows the intention, the cost, and the work required in maintaining deep anger over an extended period, and she skillfully depicts the slow climb back to a point where Ida B can allow herself to express happiness again. Ida B's voice is a little unsettling, ranging from the unbridled whimsy of Anne of Green Gables to the folksy southern twang of DiCamillo's Opal, and her habit of referring to herself in the third person becomes obtrusive. But Hannigan, with her strong insight and her quirky way of putting things ("That cancer was like bugs in a tree: one day you don't see them at all and the next it seems like they're everywhere") is clearly an author to watch. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2004 July #4
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.
PW Reviews 2007 January #1
"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.