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Ida B    by Katherine Hannigan order for
Ida B
by Katherine Hannigan
Order:  USA  Can
Greenwillow, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Ida B. Applewood has chores to do, as she anxiously waits to carry out her scheduled plan for fun - three places to go, six things to make, and two conversations to have. The brook is calling to her, 'C'mon out and play, Ida B. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up.' The brook is Ida B's special place for sending stick-made rafts with notes attached, asking questions like 'How is life like in Canada? Please respond ...' Helping Mom and Dad with the after-dinner dishes, Ida B muses, 'My insides started itching and my feet started hopping ... they were ten minutes past being ready to go.'

Ida B lives in Wisconsin, USA. She's a fourth grader home-schooled by her parents, adept at innovation and imagination. Ida B creates a 'Face Mask' out of dish soap, a perpetual grime repellant, to save time washing-up so often. During their evening walks on the orchard property, Dad and Ida B talk about the gift of nature, how precious it is and that it should be preserved for future generations. Ida B tells Dad that the earth takes care of us as well. She has a dog named Rufus, a cat named Lulu, orchard trees with labels like 'Henry VIII', and 'Pastel', and she considers her hill a 'mountain'. Ida B converses with the trees and the brook. On a particular day, they warn her that a storm is coming - but how can that be, Ida B thinks, when it is such a beautiful day!

When Mom is diagnosed with a cancerous lump and must undergo treatments, it is the beginning of the disintegration of Ida B's world. Dad informs her that he must sell parcels of their property to meet expenses. This will mean that some of her precious trees will be uprooted by new owners to build a house. To Ida B's dismay, she no longer can be taught at home and must enroll in public school. Ida B is shattered with adjustments to changes, as she holds within herself emotions of betrayal and broken promises. It takes time and soul-searching for Ida B to find her way back to the happiness she knew. Making friends at school is traumatic, and there is strain from the wall she builds between herself and her parents. Ida B learns difficult lessons, and one particularly exhilarating one: 'apologizing is like Spring cleaning'.

Katherine Hannigan's first novel is a masterful delight, which I highly recommend to you. It has glee, humor, sorrow, a search for understanding, forgiveness, and love. Ida B is as delicious as an Autumn harvest of apples picked fresh at the orchard, and my mouth waters just thinking of the crisp, tart first bite, and leaves me longing for more please, more! Hannigan's dedicates her book 'For the hills and the trees, the wind, the rivers, and the stars.' The book was printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, which process 'saved 384 trees, 165,055 gallons of water ... and 279 million BTUs of energy' (

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