Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Secret School

The Secret School

For ages 8 to 11
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2003   ISBN: 978-0152046996

   Ida has a dream, a dream of going to high school – something no one in her family has done yet. To be able to do this she has to do well in her exams at the end of the school year. Ida is pretty confident that she can do this, until the day when her teacher, Miss Fletcher, announces that she has to leave. Miss Fletcher’s mother is in bad health and Miss Fletcher has to go home to take care of the sick woman. The school board isn’t willing to hire a new teacher for the few weeks remaining in the school year. So now what is Ida to do?

   In the end it is Ida’s friend Tom who comes up with the solution, and what a solution it is too. Tom tells Ida that she should stand in for Miss Fletcher and become the teacher herself. At first Ida can hardly believe that Tom would suggest such a thing, but then she remembers how much she wants to go to high school and there seems to be no other solution.

   Ida and Tom put the matter to the other children in the school and it is decided that Ida should become their teacher. The whole plan has to be kept a secret, for if the school board should find out what is going on who knows what will happen. Ida soon discovers that her job is going to be a hard one. Not only does she have to figure out how to be a teacher, but she also has to study and help out on the family farm.

  The story of Ida and the enormous challenges she confronts is heartwarming, often funny, touching, and inspirational. We often take our educational opportunities for granted and through Ida’s experiences we can see what it might be like if we had to work hard to be able to go to school. Avi gives Ida, her friends, and her family voices that seem to reach out to us across the years.