From School Library Journal
Grade 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
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*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. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved