Thursday, May 7, 2009
I love nothing more than a strong girl character, and Ida B. Applegate does not disappoint. Written in the first person, Ida B.'s voice rings out loud and clear from the start. Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World is a middle grade book (grades 4-6) that manages to be laugh out loud funny and touching at the same time.
When we first meet Ida B., she lives with her mom, dad and dog Rufus, on a farm in Wisconsin where she is homeschooled. The farmland is her classroom and her best friends are the trees in the orchard. It's an idyllic, predictable life, which is exactly how she likes it. Ida is independent and feisty, and you are immediately drawn to her and her opinionated views of the world. Unfortunately, when her mother gets sick, that world is turned upside down. The family has to sell part of the orchard, and Ida B. is sent to the local elementary school. (A bad experience in kindergarten had her swearing off regular school forever.) This unfortunate change of events makes Ida B. change too. She hardens her heart and enters a black period, determined not to let anyone in.
Katherine Hannigan does a wonderful job portraying the internal struggles Ida B. goes through and the anger she feels. She really lets us get into her head. Ida B. is mad. She's mad that her mother got sick, she's mad at her parents for making her go to school and she's mad because she feels like she doesn't she fit in. Elementary aged kids will identify with Ida's fluctuating emotions.
This wonderful middle grade novel will surely please your fourth to sixth grader. Girls and boys will both appreciate Ida B's unique outlook on life, as well as the way she deals with it when it turns upside down on her.
BookNosher Tidbits: Published in 2005, Ida B...And Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World was a Book Sense Book of the Year Book. School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and Child Magazine selected it as a Best Book of the Year. It received the Parents' Choice Gold Award also.
BookNosher Activities: To me, Ida B. is a book that screams to be read aloud. Her voice is pitch perfect, humorous and unique. Kids will love listening to it. I am a big believer in reading books to kids even after they can read for themselves. There are many reasons why, not the least of which is that reading aloud awakens children's imaginations.
If you're interested in learning more about reading aloud to children, the guru of the read-aloud movement is Jim Trelease. Check out his website. It's filled with activities and suggestions of good read-aloud books, as well as a free brochure that highlights facts from his seminars, books and films.