posted by Ruth
“Ida B. is the book I fell in love with this year,” 11-year-old Sara gushed. “I’ve read it 12 times. I even own three copies, I’m so obsessed. Everybody around me knows all about this book. They have to!”
There’s a special intensity to the connections tweens feel for the books that really matter to them. I’ve been having fun asking the 6th-graders I meet with to tell me about book ( or books!) they have fallen in love with this year. I look forward to blogging about the latest and greatest hits from this group of kids at Ron Russell Middle School in Portland, Oregon. When I interviewed Sara, I had not read Ida B., but her obsession combined with the popularity of the novel with the other kids, led me to pick up a copy. I want to start by saying: “Thanks, Sara! I have fallen in love with Ida B., too.”
I was drawn to the spunky protagonist, Ida B. for her wonderful way with words, fresh take on the natural world, and creative stance on–well, everything! She takes on substance as a realistic character, complete with the tendency to carry grudges, make mistakes, and suffer consequences of her sometimes thoughtless actions. But we still can recognize her compassionate nature and exuberance with all living things, in particular the individual trees in her family’s orchard, who have personalities and voices as distinctive as her human friends. In the course of the book,some pretty devastating events occur in her family, but they are portrayed more as part of life than driving the plot as “afterschool special trauma of the week.”
It’s a terrific readaloud, too. Besides the intriguing language and Ida B.’s original metaphorical thinking, it is often laugh out loud funny. The themes of loss, fear, family tensions–as well as protecting the environment– invite rich conversations. You may find you need 3 copies at all times, like Sara, to pass out to friends who simply must read it!