Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World
by Katherine Hannigan
New York: HarperCollins, 2004
I picked up "Ida B" at the library to read to my kids because it looked like a fun book, perhaps a "Junie B. Jones" character for kids who were just a little bit older. And it did have its moments of humor. My kids did laugh out loud on several occasions. Mostly, though, this book deals with some very big issues. Ida B. is an imaginative young lady, who spends her days talking with trees and the brook and learning at home. After a disastrous first couple weeks in kindergarten, her parents had decided to homeschool her, and she spent four wonderful years that way. As a homeschooling parent, I was very pleased with Hannigan's description of home education. But then, her mother gets cancer and everything goes wrong. Her mother is always tired. Her father has to sell some of their land to pay for medical bills. Worst of all, Ida has to go to public school. Her young life has crashed in a big way and she decides she is not going to take it sitting down. She makes up her mind to hate school, not make friends with anyone, scare off the people building a house on "her" land, and maintain only the minimum of polite conversation with her parents. During the book, readers get to see how these plans turn out for Ida B. It is a book that deals with very real issues of trust and love. Hannigan also includes a very sympathetic 4th grade teacher who never gives up on Ida and in the long run, makes all the difference. Ida learns some important lessons and so will readers. Don't let the cover or the title fool you.