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Ida B.

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Review of IDA B. by Katherine Hannigan

By Becky Laney

Hannigan, Katherine. 2004. IDA B.: ...AND HER PLANS TO MAXIMIZE FUN, AVOID DISASTER, AND (POSSIBLY) SAVE THE WORLD. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN: 0060730242.

IDA B...AND HER PLANS TO MAXIMIZE FUN, AVOID DISASTER, AND (POSSIBLY) SAVE THE WORLD by Katherine Hannigan is a wonderful wonderful book. Ida B. is an unforgettable character full of spunk and determination. She is a very lively and active child. She reminds me of Anne of Green Gables and Junie B. Jones combined. She has a very active imagination. The novel is written in first person narrative--so you really do live inside the mind of Ida B. when you're reading this book.
Perhaps because it is written in first person, as a reader you really do begin to understand/empathize with Ida B. In other words, you feel like you know her--the real her. There is absolutely nothing flat or stereotypical in this character. She's made of flesh and blood and not cardboard.
The language of this book is absolutely incredible. Hannigan has a wonderful sense of style--especially when it comes to Ida B's descriptions of every day things. Ida B sees school as "that particular Place of Slow but Sure Body-Cramping, Mind-Numbing, Fun-Killing Torture" (58). Ida's classroom is described as "the Dungeon of Deadly Dullness" (98) and perhaps my favorite is her description of the school bus as the "Yellow Prison of Propulsion" (109). Those three descriptions are just the beginning.
The book goes through a range of emotions as Ida B's "normal" world is turned upside down when her mom is diagnosed with breast cancer. Cancer is not something that she can really understand and grasp (who can really ever understand the why of it). All Ida B. knows is the effect of that cancer on her small world. No longer able to be home schooled, Ida B. is forced to go to school. Luckily, there is a wonderful teacher (Ms. Washington) there waiting for her to guide her through this difficult time.
I LOVED this book. It is both funny and serious. It is both light and dark. But above all else, it is realistic. You get a sense that this is a "real" child facing "real" problems.

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