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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2005
I have recommended this book to half a dozen elementary school age kids, and all of them have loved it. And in contrast to the views spotlighted above, several of them have also read Kate DiCamillo's "Because of Winn-Dixie" and think that "Ida B." is a much better read, and I agree. This is the rare book that creates a direct connection between the reader and the protagonist's emotions and motivations; the children I know who have read the book all have remarked about how the author allowed them to "get inside" the protagonist's head in ways they hadn't experienced before. Ida B. has all the runaway emotions and issues of self-control that elementary school children struggle with -- anger at her parents for not fulfilling all of their promises, anger at her schoolmates and teachers for not allowing her to fit in, anger at the very environment around her for not staying perpetually the same. She has moments of elation and moments of deep depression. She comes up with creative ways to "punish" her parents for breaking their promises. In other words, she's a real child and not the usual paragon that we typically find in children's fiction. Eventually Ida B. manages to reconcile herself to her surroundings in different ways -- by the end of the book she is able to make peace with herself and those around her in ways that rang true to me and to the children I know who have read the book. Ultimately, the book's message for children is an optimistic one -- don't despair, because no matter how hard things seem, you will find ways of coping, and this too shall pass.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2004
I read this book aloud to my two boys, ages 6 and 9 and it made quite an impression on all of us. Beautifully and skillfully addresses issues of love and fear and loss in a simple and accessible way. Ida B. is a memorable, imperfect little girl, full of spunk and hope, and we often refer to her in our home as if she were a personal friend. I highly recommend this book. We are looking forward to Ms. Hannigan's next novel.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2005
I have loved many books...but this one beats them all. I am in 4th grade and I read a lot. As soon as I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down. I like Ida because she was creative and things happen to her that kids or people can relate to. Sometimes, I refer to it as an apple book because of all the orchards. In the future, I would definately love to read more books by this author. If you like books like Molly Moon, Chasing Vermeer, Series of Unfortunate Events or Harry Potter, you will love this book too.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2008
This fun novel is made up of glorious similes, metaphors, and intense descriptions. Ida B is a strong character that comes to life. You can really relate to her feelings. She is unpredictable and makes you want to keep reading to see what she will do next. Ida B is a moving story with a great theme and message about nature. Dealing with a loved one who is diagnosed with cancer is another inspirational theme woven into the plot. After I finished reading, I had to stop a moment to take in everything I had read. It truly made me think, and I believe it will have the same effect on anyone who reads this book. I confidently recommend Ida B.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2005
As a fourth grade teacher, I can relate to Ida B Applewood since she is a fourth grader herself, but I cannot say that I have ever met a student quite like her! Aside from her lifelike relationships with the apple trees on her family's orchard and her talent for thinking critically, Ida B is definitely a girl with a plan. Ida B professes that, "I believe good plans are the best way to maximize fun, avoid disaster, and, possibly, save the world." However, Ida B brings life that goes from planned to unplanned to reality for readers.

Ida B is a story that will personally allow you to get to know the main character, Ida B, who experiences what it is like when plans fall apart. As a reader, my heart went out to Ida B whose life underwent some serious changes that not all fourth graders or even some adults ever have to endure. Throughout the book, I thought that Ida B excellently exhibited a strong searching within herself for the coping skills she thought she needed to deal with life's changes. As an adult reader and a teacher, this book provided me with real insight to what life could actually be like for a child experiencing such changes as Ida B. Hannigan brilliantly lets us into Ida B's head through the reasoning and planning this wonderful character is constantly doing. Although this read can become deeply emotional and make you want to scream through the pages, "Everything will be alright, Ida B!", it promotes an overwhelming feeling that no matter how unplanned life may seem, there really is a plan! Ida B goes on my list of all time favorites without a doubt!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2004
O' there is never enough time for fun! This is what Ida B thinks. Her friends are the apple trees in the orchard and her family are always by her side! She thought nothing could ever go wrong in her life! Until her mom gets canser. Her mom is very weak and cannot homeschool her any more so they send her to a Public School. She hates the public schools. She gets a new heart. A cold hard heart. She doesn't talk to her mom or dad anymore. She doesn't want to make friends at her new school, and does nothing during recess. She has an inspiring 3 grade teacher who helps her pick away at the hard heart and allows the fresh kind heart come through. Read the book to find out what happens! I loved this book! It was awesome and inspiring! Hannigan does a great job showing characterization. She tells you how Ida B feels and what she thinks perfectly. Characterization is what a character is like and what her or she does to show personality. For a moment I felt that I was Ida B! I recommend this book to people who care for realistic fiction books and books that make you feel good inside! This is an awesome book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2004
Ida B. Applewood is a delightful character who is sure to inspire and amuse young readers. Ida B. is a touching and humorous story about a quirky little girl living an idyllic life in the country. She is home-schooled by her doting parents, and the whole earth is her classroom. Her family, the trees, the brook, and her animals are all the companionship she needs. Ida B.'s life drastically changes when her family faces a crisis and she is forced to start attending public school. Ida B.'s response is to harden her heart and shut out the world. We get to experience her internal struggles and see the messes she creates for herself with her new tough-as-nails demeanor. A caring teacher slowly helps peel away the layers so the true Ida B. Applewood can shine again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2006
Ida B, by Katherine Hannigan, is a wonderful book. One reason I like it so much is because Ida B has such a unique personality. She has a funny way of solving her problems and getting through life. Another reason is that it leaves you hanging. Some chapters end saying she has come up with a new plan, but you have to read the next chapter to find out what that plan is. My third reason is that it has a happy ending. I won't spoil it for you; you'll just have to read the book yourself to find out. I really enjoyed reading this book and I hope you have a chance to read it too!
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2007
My biggest complaint about this book is that Ida never acknowledges her spoiled, self-absorbed behavior toward her parents. I was expecting a scene at the end of the book where she grows up a little and shows compassion and concern for her mother's health. I was waiting for her to apologize to her parents for her behavior, realizing that her mother didn't get cancer on purpose and her father had no choice but to sell land to pay for medical bills. Instead, she apologizes to the trees and to the river and her classmate, and that's it. To make it worse, she "senses" that her father apologizes to her. It would have been so much better if Ida B. had learned a lesson about life's difficult choices.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2005
I highly recommend the chapter book, "Ida B ... and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World". This is the first novel written by Katherine Hannigan and published by Greenwillow Books. This 246 page novel is very readable and suitable for intermediate grade level students.

The story takes place in Lawson's Grove, Wisconsin, in a rural farm setting complete with a mountain, an apple orchard, and a brook. The setting is peaceful and predictable, with a home life complete with well-established and comforting routines. From the house with her bedroom and the kitchen, to the land around the house, it almost seems like a child's version of the Garden of Eden.

The main character in the story is, of course, Ida B. Applewood, a fourth grade girl who lives at home on her family farm. She lives with her mother, named Ida, her father, her dog, Rufus, and her cat, Lulu. Other important characters in the story include her teacher, Ms. Washington, and two students from her class, Ronnie and Claire.

Ida B. is a very imaginative and creative girl, who is able to converse with the trees and the brook on the farm. Her friends, the trees and the brook, have names and personalities, and she is able to share her deepest thoughts and feelings with them. She loves the predictability of her life, such as the same foods for breakfast and lunch, and enjoys being able to plan her day and carry out her plan without disruptions. She and her father share a love of and respect for the land and their responsibility to preserve it. But then the family faces a very real problem when her mother becomes ill. Ida B. and her family have to learn to live with and deal with the unexpected changes and their feelings, just as any real family would have to if faced with the same life circumstances. As Ida B. must face these unwelcome changes in her life, she has to learn how to not only deal with her own feelings, but with the impact those feelings have on her and on those around her. She works so hard to build walls of silence between herself and everyone in her life, including her friends the trees and the brook she's known all her life, that she has trouble breaking through those walls even when she wants to.

Katherine Hannigan has written this story in a very straightforward and believable way. The reader gets to know the characters as they move from their idyllic lives through the turmoil unexpected events create. The reader is also able to understand the frustration and anger Ida B. is feeling and share her feelings as she begins to work through and understand her feelings herself. The story is told in first person, and enables the reader to clearly share in Ida B.'s thoughts and feelings. I enjoyed this insight into her thoughts, particularly the extremes when she allowed her thoughts and fears to run away with her. Ida B.'s story is easy and enjoyable to read, and gives you insights into the loneliness and isolation a child can create for themselves when they are unable to talk about their feelings. This would be a valuable book not only for the older intermediate level students it was intended for, but for their teachers to read. Interwoven through the story is the underlying story of the impact a teacher can have on the life of a child. The only thing I didn't like about this book is the title. I don't think the subtitle "...Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World!" really fits this story.

Ida B. is Katherine Hannigan's first novel. It would seem some of the inspiration for Ida B. came from her own personal life. In looking at information in her background, it she appears to have a great deal in common with Ida B. She was also a very imaginative and creative child, who preferred to spend time alone with her own thoughts and fantasies while growing up. She indicates moving to the Midwest from the state of New York inspired her with its open spaces. She also shares some of Ida B.'s experiences, including the incident in the book where she covers her face with dish soap, with very unexpected and uncomfortable consequences!

I went to our school library media specialist and asked for a recommendation. As she selected several books for me to read, this one stood out for me somehow. It was a book and author I had not heard about. The information about the author inside the back cover was intriguing as well. She wrote, Ida B.'s life "is the life I would have chosen if I could have." Somehow, I knew Ida B. must be special. I have referred this book to the school psychologist at my school as a resource to use during counseling with children who may be experiencing some of the life difficulties Ida B. encountered and survived.
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