OWTK KidLit + Comics

Kid’s Book Review: Ida B

Ida B
. . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World
by Katherine Hannigan

I discovered Katherine Hannigan through Emmaline and the Bunny, a cute-sounding fantasy tale I figured the girls would find fanciful.  They did, as did the Mrs.  So, I checked out the more mature and involved Ida B.  This wasn’t for the girls, at least not until I read through it first to make sure all of the content would be somewhat age-appropriate for children 6 & 3.  Ida B is Hannigan’s first published work and it’s a doozy.  Beauty, sadness, fear, anger, death, nature, love, redemption; Ida B has got just about everything covered in the range-of-emotions department.  In the end, even though it’s from a child’s POV, Ida B is too much for my youngsters, but I, despite my much elevated age, loved it.

Ida B. Applewood, a bright, spirited, home-schooled 4th-grader, has got a plan for everything but when her comfort zone shrinks and her perfect world begins to crumble she retreats inside herself, intentionally transforming her heart into a “sharp, black stone…so hard nobody could break it and so sharp it would hurt anybody who touched it”.  No relationship is spared.  The effect is a raw examination of how our children compartmentalize their fragility while clinging to a happiness that seems irreplaceable or at least not capable of being improved upon.

Once the action is set in motion the tension manages to touch the reader as well.   The emotions of Ida B, her Mama and Daddy waft off the page and swirl around you.  It’s not until the final few chapters that the turmoil is unwound, the grip loosened and you, along with Ida B, begin to smile again.

Poetic, often romantic prose, with dialogue in a southern, hospitable manner lends a comforting, old-world charm to the delightful book.  The tone softens and enhances the mood of Hannigan’s debut novel.

Ida B shows us that you cannot plan for everything, change, even change that looks freakin’ miserable at the start, can end up having countless positive results.  We are reminded that sometimes the best action is the gut-reaction (see Malcom Gladwell’s “Blink”) and that despite your earnest efforts, you cannot keep goodness or the kindness of others away forever.

Ida B is going to best appreciated and understood by kids ages 8-12.

Listen to an audio excerpt of Ida B here.

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