HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Christmas with Ida Early
Author: Robert Burch
Illustrator: Richard Williams
Publisher: Scholastic, republished in 1990
ISBN-13: 978-0670221318 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0670221317 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0590439510 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0590439510 Paperback
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Burch, Robert. Christmas with Ida Early (published in 1983 by Puffin Books, a division of Viking Penguin Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014; republished in 1990 by Scholastic Inc., 730 Broadway, New York City, NY 10003). It is during the Great Depression, and Randall Sutton, a seventh grader, lives with his father, eighth grade sister Ellen, and six year old twin brothers Clay and Dewey, in the rural mountains of northern Georgia near the town of Buckley where Mr. Sutton works in a lumber yard. In a previous book, Ida Early Comes over the Mountain, which I have not read, Mrs. Sutton has died, and a tall, gangly, raw-boned twenty-something young woman named Ida Early comes over the mountain to keep house for the Sutton family. In Christmas with Ida Early the family meets the new preacher in town, also a tall twenty something young man, and the twins think that he and Ida ought to get married. But what will Brother Preston think of Ida?
The only possible objectionable element is a couple of references to tobacco, in one of which Ida herself pulls out her bag of Bull Durham, rolls a cigarette, and takes a smoke. One may not necessarily agree with all the religious concepts and practices mentioned in the story, but the events surrounding them still make for very funny reading. Author Robert Burch grew up in Fayette County, GA, during the Depression. These books can serve as a great introduction for middle grade readers to the economic hardships of life in the 1930s, and there is the added element of learning how to cope with the loss of a wife and mother. A couple of other reviewers noted that the sequel is not as good as the first Ida Early book but still found it an enjoyable treat. I, too, liked it very much.