Ida B is a homeschooled 9 year old. This book first caught my eye because of the cute title. After I skimmed through it and realized she is homeschooled, I had to read it and share it with my girls. Books about homeschoolers are not real common, so finding this was a big treat. Ida B is a spunky, imaginative girl who has a unique way at looking at life and a memorable knack at stating her case. Her world was "finer than fine" until her mother became ill. Ida is eventually put back in school and her parents have to sell part of the farm to pay medical bills. Ida is angry and hurt and she lets her heart become "a sharp, black stone...it was so hard nobody could break it and so sharp it would hurt anybody who touched it." The book is about Ida B's emotional healing, slowly finding herself, reconstructing her world and learning to say she is sorry.
This book is written for the 9-12 age range, but does cover some deep issues like cancer, the possiblilty of losing a parent, and emotional separation. Ida does not cope well through most of the book, and I was a bit dismayed at first, thinking a homeschool family in (my biased) theory shouldn't have that degree of pulling away and lack of communication. At second thought I could see that the story would be a good conversation starter with my girls about all of these deep issues. Ida is very imaginative and she talks to trees, there is a subtle earth love (I don't know what else to call it, tree-hugger-ness?..) feel to the book. At one point Ida's dad comments to her that we have to take care of the earth and she replies that the earth sometimes takes care of us. I find this a barely- there issue though, not in your face and the above comment would be a good discussion starter. As far as talking to the trees and brook, we've always had fairies about so that didn't really concern me. Thought I would mention it for anyone who would want to steer clear. It is a new favorite for me, and I am pleased to be sharing it as a read- aloud with my older girls right now. I really hope we see more stories about Ida B, and I hope she gets to go back to homeschool-we really need more homeschool characters.