Ida B is a heroine in the mold of some of my all time favorites - Laura Ingalls Wilder: Pippi Longstocking; Ramona Quimby; even the more recent Clementine - although I'm most sure that she would be bosom friends with Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame). The things that I loved best about Anne Shirley are the things that I love best about Ida B: Her connection to nature - talking with the apple trees, chatting with the brook; Her curiousity and ingenuity - tired of having to constantly wash her face, Miss Ida B tries to come up with an ill-fated plan for a Soap Mask; Her troubles with conformity - her first interaction with schooling and all its rules and 'wonderful things everywhere that you couldn't touch or take time for' was such a soul-crushing experience that her parents decided to homeschool her, to everyone's benefit. But when something unexpected happens, and Ida B's mama gets cancer, everything changes. Between the money troubles that lead to selling off parts of their land, Ida B's daddy turning into some tense and promise-breaking stranger, and her mama's sickness & treatment stealing not only her energy and her health, but what Ida B perceives as her 'real mama': her spirit, her light. Things get truly difficult in their household when Ida B has to return to public school, because her mom is just not well enough to teach her anymore. And when that happens, there's a passage so simple and concise, but breathtakingly true, about how you learn to cope when people let you down or betray you (as Ida B sees it). About how you have to harden your heart in order to just go on. I'm going to include it here, just so you can see how spectacular it is, how sad and awful and... right."But as I cried, my heart was being transformed. It was getting smaller and smaller in my chest and hardening up like a rock. The smaller and harder my heart got, the less I cried, until finally I stopped completely. By the time I was finished, my heart was a sharp, black stone that was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. It was so hard nobody could break it and so sharp it would hurt anybody who touched it. Armed with this new heart, Ida B concots a plan to "just shy of death and dismemberment, to fight the craziness that had taken over my family and was invading my valley. I'd come up with a plan, and they'd be sorry, every single one of them, that they had to reckon with Ida B." How Ida B puts that plan into action - and the strength it takes her to carry it out, and then to learn to open her heart back up - are what the rest of the book focuses on. And I loved it because A) Ida B is stubborn & she can stick to that plan of making everybody sorry for as long as humanly possible (and you, as a reader, can't blame her)B)The other characters in the book deal with Ida B & her stubbornness in different ways - with patience, anger, distrust, confusion - All appropriate responses to a girl who is determined to not have any fun, or be happy, because then it might prove her parents right in sending her back to school. But none of the characters are characitures - Her dad gets mad, but he also tries to stay calm. Her mom is disappointed, but tries not to push to hard. Her teacher (and boy do I love me an awesome teacher) just sits, and schemes her own schemes, and waits Ida B out. C) When Ida B finally realizes that maybe she's got some apologizing to do, and maybe she's gone too far in this whole campaign, there are no miracle fixes. She has consequences to her previous behaviors, and they're not ridiculous either - no blood feuds or instant bonding here - Just realistic sucking it up and saying you're sorry, and having the other person maybe not looking at you out of the corners of their eyes all the time. Anyways, Ida B is amazing, and everybody should read it, and then figure out a way to put Lucy Maud Montgomery next to Katherine Hannigan on your bookshelves, just so Ida B and Anne can coexist somewhere besides my brain.