Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ida B…and her plans to Maximize fun, avoid disaster and (Possibly) save the worl

Ida B…and her plans to Maximize fun, avoid disaster and (Possibly) save the worl

Katherine Hannigan
For ages 9 and up
HarperCollins, 2004   ISBN: 1400090938

Ida B is an extremely happy nine-year-old. Her parents have the good sense not to send her to a school which she hates. Instead she is homeschooled and she loves it. She loves living on the farm with her Mama and her Daddy, and she loves her conversations with the apple trees in the orchard and her talks with the burbling stream. She loves the games that she plays with herself and the walks that she takes with Daddy in the evenings. Everything is “righter than right.”

Then one day the apple trees warn her that hard times are coming. Ida does not want to believe them. What could possibly go wrong with her perfect life? What happens is that Mama gets cancer and everything changes. First of all Mama is sick all the time. She cannot give Ida B the attention she is used to having. Then Daddy has to sell some of their land to pay for Mama’s medical bills. Ida B is appalled. How can Daddy sell some of their beloved orchard and let strangers cut down some of her trees? Then, to top it off, Daddy tells her that she has to go to school. He is just too busy to teach her at home and Mama is too sick. Ida B feels completely betrayed and decides there and then that she is never going to allow herself to trust or to love anyone again.

So Ida B goes to school and she goes through the motions of living, but she doesn’t let anyone, not even her parents, get close to her. She also begins a campaign against the family who bought the land her father sold. Perhaps if she is as unwelcoming as possible they will go away and give the land back.

Without a doubt this book has a decidedly magical quality which is hard to resist. Ida B’s struggles with her own feelings are so true to life that most readers will be astonished at how much they are able to identify with her. They will recognize her anger and then later, they will recognize her struggles to stay angry even when her heart so much wants to give in.

This is a beautifully written book which tugs at the heart strings and tweaks at the funny bone, and which will be remembered long after the last page has been read.