"Ida B. Applewood believes there is never enough time for fun.
That's why she's so happy to be homeschooled and to spend every free second outside with the trees and the brook.
Then some not-so-great things happen in her world. Ida B has to go back to that Place of Slow but Sure Body-Cramping, Mind-Numbing, Fun-Killing Torture—school. She feels her heart getting smaller and smaller and hardening into a sharp, black stone.
How can things go from righter than right to a million miles beyond wrong? Can Ida B put together a plan to get things back to just-about perfect again?"
Characters: I have a deep-seated love for spunky and intelligent middle grade heroines. Ida B. fits this label perfectly, as she shows a lot of insight and imagination as soon as she starts racing outside to commune with her tree friends. Yes, the trees talk to her. Ida B. is that excellent at listening.
Sure, Ida B. can feel a little trite at moments, but it also has a surprising amount of honesty. When Ida B. has to deal with hardship, she doesn't respond with the smiley resilience that's often expected of MG protagonists. Instead, she copes by moping and angsting, which most of us are prone to do regardless of age. And she doesn't do it for a short period of time either. Ida B. struggles with loneliness and change for months, and she doesn't just snap out of it at the conclusion. She's has as many emotions and struggles as a real kid.
Secondary characters may not be as memorable as Ida B.'s sparkling personality, but relationships are well handled and feel natural in the context of the story. 4 and a half flowers.
Writing: The writing can feel a little simplistic and cutesy at times, but that's a part of its charm. Ida B. isn't the most sophisticated middle grade novel I've read, but it does have excellent dialogue and sharp metaphors that help carry the story. 4 flowers.
Plot: I loved the surprise twist of the plot, and how it came early. I loved how Ida B. had to deal with some really serious conflict, and how surprised and delighted I was by her journey. It's not quick or easy, and I liked that natural progression. 5 flowers.
End: Sweet, and gives the book an overall circular effect. It's just the right tone for this book. 4 and a half flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: This description deserves every award. It doesn't reveal the shocking and relevant twist, it has unique vocabulary that Ida B. herself uses in the book, and it's an accurate synopsis of the story. 5 flowers.
Overall: If you want a fun middle grade novel with a great main character, plenty of heart and a wonderful amount of realism, pick Ida B. It won't disappoint. 4 and a half flowers.