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So B. It Hardcover – April 27, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439799864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439799867
  • ASIN: 0066236223
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (312 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #870,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One day in her apartment in Reno, Bernadette heard a pitiful sound in the hallway. She opened the door a crack and saw a young woman standing there in her raincoat, her bare legs spattered with dried mud, holding a crying baby wrapped in a blanket. The baby was Heidi, and they had come from the almost-empty apartment next door for help. Heidi's Mama can't tend her week-old child because she has, as Heidi later says, "a bum brain," so Bernadette steps in and cares for them both tenderly. Mama says her name is "So Be It," but with her twenty-three-word vocabulary, this is all the information she can give Bernadette.

Twelve years later this strange but loving household is still together. Heidi does the shopping because Bernadette has "angora phobia," and pays for it with money she wins at the laundromat; Bernadette teaches her at the kitchen table while Mama is happily occupied with her coloring books, and the rent and utilities are always mysteriously paid. But Heidi wonders who she is, where she and Mama came from, why they were alone, and most of all, she wants to know the meaning of Mama's word "soof." When she finds some old photos in a cupboard, she knows where to go to find out, and as she sets out on a long cross-country bus journey, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into surprising places in this intriguing and heartwarming mystery. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–Heidi and her mother have lived in an apartment that adjoins with their neighbor, Bernadette, since the 12-year-old was probably no more than a week old. Bernadette accepted and loved them from the moment they arrived at her door but could never ask questions since Heidi's mentally challenged mother simply "didn't have the words to answer them." Bernadette's agoraphobia further isolates the child. Heidi struggles with knowing nothing about her father or her family history, and never having a real last name. Then she finds an old camera, which prompts her quest to learn the identity of the people in the photographs it holds and to discover her past. While traveling by bus from Nevada to Liberty, NY, the girl relies on her luck, instinct, and the people she meets on the way to learn the truth about her mother and her own background. Readers will pull for and empathize with the likable characters, especially Heidi as she struggles for self-knowledge. The almost melodramatic story has fantasy elements such as Heidi's lucky streak; hitting a slot machine enables her to buy the bus ticket to New York. Heidi's naive voice, however, creates a willing suspension of disbelief as she learns what she set out to and matures along the way.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Sarah Weeks is the author of Oggie Cooder, So B. It, Jumping the Scratch, and the Guy series. She lives in New York City, where she practices charving at least once a fortnight.

Customer Reviews

What was most impressive about the story though was the character of So B. It.
E. R. Bird
This book makes you feel like the world is a place where you can be anywhere but you will always be save.
Ms. Kingham's Kids
Heidi It and her mother "So B. It" was found one morning outside Bernadette's apartment.
Zippy Lily Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 90 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As far as I can determine, the most significant thing author Sarah Weeks wrote prior to "So B. It", was an amusing series for middle readers called the "Guy" books. Like many children's authors before her (Louis Sachar, for example), Weeks began her career as an author with light fluffy material. Then, out of nowhere, she creates this remarkable, complex, deeply moving book. "So B. It" may well be the first step towards making Sarah Weeks one of the great writers for kids of this era. She has taken a difficult (some might say impossible) subject, given it warmth and intelligence, and created one of the best books of 2004. If you want to give a kid something to read that's interesting and insightful, but also contains more complexity than your average "Droon" chronicle, I can't recommend this book any more highly.

Heidi It has always, so far as she has known, lived with her mother and her neighbor Bernice (Bernie) in their apartments in Reno. Heidi's family is remarkable for a great many reasons. Her mother, So B. It, has, what Heidi matter-of-factly calls a "bum brain". She's mentally handicapped and has only the capacity of saying only 23 words altogether. Bernie is a neighbor who has always cared for Heidi in ways that So B. It could not. Unfortunately, Bernie has agoraphobia and can't exit their apartments for any reason. Heidi, for her part, is what you might call normal were it not for one remarkable fact. She's lucky. Anytime her household needs a little more money to fix the vacuum cleaner or to pay an unexpected bill, Heidi tromps down to the local slot machine, wins a load of cash, and gives it to Bernie to use. And life with these three might have gone on in this fashion had it not been for a couple mysteries that Heidi wanted to solve.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
So B. It is a heart warming story about a lost family being found. This story is about, a girl named Heidi living with her mentally disabled mother. Years ago they arrived at a lady's front step, not knowing where they were. The lady, Bernadette, took them under her wings and practically adopted them. As happy as they were, Heidi still wasn't satisfied. Her mother new twenty three words, common words, except for one. Soof. Heidi feels that she has to know what this mysterious word means so she goes on a mission to find out. She goes through so much, meets a lot of new people, made new friends, and goes through some tears. In the end it works out great, she meets more family than she ever imagined she had. For such a young girl she goes through so many up and downs. This book is mixed with so many emotions because it focuses on family and all the ups and downs a family goes through.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on July 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Heidi knows her mom loves her. But because of her mother's mental disability, she is unable to care for herself or her daughter. Their loving neighbor, Bernadette, helps out and is a vital part of their family. Bernadette finally manages to teach Mama how to open cans, but tying shoes is beyond her capabilities. Mama can't read or tell time. She knows 23 words. One of Mama's words, "soof," is a mystery --- no one knows what it means, and Mama is unable to define it.
Heidi lives in Reno and so is able to wield her incredibly reliable lucky streak at the laundromat slot machine when her babysitting money doesn't quite cover their needs. How did Heidi and her mom end up in Reno, living in the apartment next to Bernadette? Bernadette tells Heidi about their mysterious appearance at her door when Heidi was just one week old. Heidi's mother was able to tell Bernadette that her baby's name was Heidi. When asked for her own name, Mama says, "So be it." Since Bernadette believes everyone should have a middle name (or at least an initial), she dubs Mama "So B. It." Heidi is known as "Heidi It."
The truth about her mother's identity eats away at Heidi. She simply cannot rest until she pieces together Mama's past through clues that appear over the years. Why is her mother terrified of buses? Why do rainy days make her anxious? When Heidi finds some old photos of her mother at a Christmas party held at Hilltop Home in Liberty, New York, she decides she must travel there alone in order to discover who her mother truly is. The trip is a frightening yet exciting adventure for determined, courageous Heidi.
SO B. IT is a great read. The mystery is intriguing; the characters are quirky yet believable. If you're a sucker for a quest story with heart, the way I am, I predict you'll be "So Into It!"
(...)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Dorantes on February 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
"If truth was a crayon and it was up to me to put a wrapper around it and name its color, I know just what I would call it--dinosaur skin. I used to think, without really thinking about it, that I knew what color that was. But that was a long time ago, before I knew what I know now about both dinosaur skin and the truth."

Thus begins the remarkable story of Heidi It, the narrator of Sarah Weeks' compelling book, So B. It. Poor Heidi has grown up fairly isolated, with a mentally handicapped mother, an agoraphobic but good-hearted neighbor, and one neighbor boy whom she talks to when taking out the trash. But Heidi is wise and courageous beyond her years and experience. She has an innate thirst for knowing the truth of her background, and so she begins a remarkable journey across country to find someone who may know about her beginnings.

Children and adults alike will enjoy the chapter set up. You see, Heidi's mom only knows 23 words or expressions. Each chapter is named after one of those words and explores the significance of those words to both Heidi and her mother. There are some words that Heidi has no trouble understanding, such as "Tea" and "Back Soon." But one word in particular, "Soof," haunts Heidi. Her mother is incapable of explaining the word and her kind neighbor urges Heidi to ignore the word, but Heidi will not rest until she has an explanation for "Soof." The meaning of "Soof" is tied inextricably to everything Heidi needs to know.

There are plenty of twists and turns and magical moments as Heidi seeks to solve the mystery of her existence. Heidi is a fascinatingly complex character, and the plot makes for an exciting page turner.

Recommended ages: 9 to 109

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