Great Illustrated Books

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

By Katherine Hannigan

HarperCollins, 2007
Pages : 256
Suggested Ages: 8-12
ISBN: 9780060730246

Ida B Applewood has a pretty perfect life, with her loving parents and her floppy-eared dog, Rufus. She's been home-schooled by her parents ever since the disastrous two weeks and three days she lasted in kindergarten class at the local public school. She's never missed having school friendships, as she spends her free time playing by the brook and talking to the trees in her family's apple orchard. She's named them all, including Beulah, Pastel, and Charlie, and they all seem to talk back to her, even that punk, Paulie.

But when her mother gets cancer, her parents have to sell off some of their land to pay the bills. Worse yet, her daddy decides there's just no way around it: Ida B will have to go back to Ernest B. Lawson Elementary School, and there's not a thing she can do about it. Ida B shuts down. Her heart turns rock hard and cold, and she decides she won't like anybody. Not the teacher, not the kids in her class, not even her own parents. Lucky for us and for Ida B, her fourth grade teacher is the wise and warm and wonderful Ms. Washington, who will not give up on her. Ms. Washington, helps Ida B come out of her angry place and accept what she can't change.

This is the most character driven novel I've read in a while. Not that much happens, but Ida B is someone you'll get to know like a treasured friend: spirited, funny, complicated, and unforgettable. Ida B has a distinct and dynamic voice as a narrator; her observations will inspire your writers to describe their surroundings and each other more pointedly. Have kids write letters to Ida B, based on their own experience, with advice on how to deal with her new school. What are the things she needs to know in fourth grade? What should she and shouldn't she do?

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Cabot, Meg. Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl. Scholastic, 2008. (And others in the Allie Finkle series.)

Codell, Esm� Raji. Sahara Special. Hyperion, 2003.

Creech, Sharon. Granny Torrelli Makes Soup. HarperCollins, 2003.

Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog. HarperCollins, 2001.

DiCamillo, Kate. Because of Winn-Dixie. Candlewick, 2000.

Henkes, Kevin. Olive's Ocean. Greenwillow, 2003.

Lord, Cynthia. Rules. Scholastic, 2006.

Slepian, Jan. The Broccoli Tapes. Philomel, 1988.

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. Libby on Wednesday. Delacorte, 1990.

Tarshis, Lauren. Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree. Dial, 2007.

Urban, Linda. A Crooked Kind of Perfect. Harcourt, 2007.

Critics have said

"Through a masterful use of voice, Hannigan's first-person narration captures an unforgettable heroine with intelligence, spirit, and a unique imagination."
School Library Journal