Reviews for So B. It


Booklist Reviews 2004 June #1
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 4-7. Thirteen-year-old Heidi lives a sheltered but rich life in Reno with her developmentally disabled mother, So B. It, and their agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette, who takes care of them. The pair arrived on Bernie's doorstep 13 years ago, and because So B. It's vocabulary consists of only 23 words, Bernie has never been able to figure out where she and her mother came from or if they have any other family. Bernie homeschools Heidi, who is intelligent, determined, and energetic. One day while cleaning a closet, Heidi discovers an old camera with film inside. When the photos are developed, they find a young, pregnant So B. It at Hilltop Home for the Disabled, in Liberty, New York. Determined to solve the mystery of her mother, Heidi sets out alone on a cross-country bus trip. There are obvious resemblances to Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons (1994), but Weeks has a distinctive voice that's all her own. Her fully dimensional characters are remarkable yet believable, and although readers may guess the truth about Heidi's family before she does, the foreshadowing builds to a beautifully satisfying ending. An especially nice device is the chapter titles: each is one of So B. It's 23 words. This is lovely writing--real, touching, and pared cleanly down to the essentials. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
Twelve-year-old Heidi It and her severely mentally disabled mother survive through a combination of good luck and their next-door neighbor's loving attention. An undeveloped roll of old film leads Heidi to embark alone on a risky cross-country quest to answer questions about Mama's past. Narrator Heidi's realistic voice lends authenticity to her unusual circumstances. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #4
"A person isn't supposed to have to guess who they are, they're supposed to know." In this well-told story tinged with loss, twelve-year-old Heidi It and her severely mentally disabled mother, So B. It, have been able to "fly under the radar" in their Reno apartment for years, avoiding detection (by social services, for example) through a combination of Heidi's extraordinary good luck and the loving attention of their agoraphobic next-door neighbor, Bernadette. Narrator Heidi's realistic voice lends authenticity to her unusual circumstances and prevents the whole scenario from becoming too far-fetched. Secure in Mama's love (though love isn't part of Mama's twenty-three-word vocabulary) and armed with Bernadette's home-school and life lessons, Heidi is remarkably well adjusted despite her sheltered existence. But unanswered questions about Mama's past keep gnawing at her. Why is Mama named "So B. It"? How did she and a newborn Heidi end up in the apartment? Heidi's discovery of an undeveloped roll of old film reveals some promising clues and leads her to embark alone on a risky cross-country quest for the truth about her family. The novel has enough suspense to draw in mystery fans, while Weeks portrays Heidi's emotional and physical odyssey with admirable economy and restraint. In the end, readers--and Heidi--gain a new appreciation for what constitutes a family. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 May #2
Resilient Heidi It is the daughter of mentally deficient So B. It, but it's really neighbor Bernadette who raises her. Piling on the difficulties, Bernadette is agoraphobic and though managing to reach out to So B. and Heidi without leaving her house, Dette is unable to do anything like normal living. Heidi is homeschooled by Bernadette and finds her unusual life to be satisfactory except for curiosity about her mother's past, as evidenced by "soof," her favorite of Mama's 23 words that also function as chapter titles. Determined to investigate the past, Heidi follows a few convenient clues to lead her on a cross-country bus journey from Reno, Nevada, to Liberty, New York. Some of the details, such as Heidi's lucky streak, are not terribly credible, but the heart of the search for home and history is one that readers will find compelling. Most of the people Heidi meets on her trip gradually take on fullness and depth, but this was never intended to be literal or realistic. Three stars on the soggy-hanky index. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 May #5
Heidi It has gotten to be 12 years old without knowing any but the sketchiest information about her background: her mentally disabled mother, who insists her name is So Be It, showed up with the week-old Heidi on their neighbor Bernadette's doorstep seemingly out of the clear blue sky, and Bernadette, who is severely agoraphobic but also bookish and generous, has been looking out for Heidi and Mama ever since. Somehow Heidi and Mama never get billed for rent or utilities, and besides, Heidi has an almost magical ability to play slot machines, which, in their native Reno, can be found even in the local Sudsy Duds laundromat. But as the novel opens, Heidi has begun to chafe-she is no longer willing to live with Bernadette's complacency about the mysterious past ("What happened before [I met you] doesn't matter," Bernadette tells Heidi. "It's just something to be grateful for") and Heidi is determined to find out what Mama means by the strange word "soof." When Heidi uncovers an old camera with a roll of undeveloped film, a host of clues to her identity send her on a solo cross-country bus trip to confront people who not only do not expect her but have taken pains to insulate themselves from her existence. Suspension of belief is beside the point: readers will probably respond to Heidi's voice and determination, get caught up in the mystery and feel wiser for the mild tear-jerker ending. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 July
Gr 6-9-Heidi and her mother have lived in an apartment that adjoins with their neighbor, Bernadette, since the 12-year-old was probably no more than a week old. Bernadette accepted and loved them from the moment they arrived at her door but could never ask questions since Heidi's mentally challenged mother simply "didn't have the words to answer them." Bernadette's agoraphobia further isolates the child. Heidi struggles with knowing nothing about her father or her family history, and never having a real last name. Then she finds an old camera, which prompts her quest to learn the identity of the people in the photographs it holds and to discover her past. While traveling by bus from Nevada to Liberty, NY, the girl relies on her luck, instinct, and the people she meets on the way to learn the truth about her mother and her own background. Readers will pull for and empathize with the likable characters, especially Heidi as she struggles for self-knowledge. The almost melodramatic story has fantasy elements such as Heidi's lucky streak; hitting a slot machine enables her to buy the bus ticket to New York. Heidi's naive voice, however, creates a willing suspension of disbelief as she learns what she set out to and matures along the way.-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2004 December
Heidi, the twelve-year-old narrator of this charming novel, lives in an apartment with a nontraditional family. A neighbor, Bernadette, took in her mother and Heidi when she was only a baby. Mama is pretty, but her looks belie the fact that she has a "bum brain," as Heidi describes. The extent of Mama's vocabulary is twenty-three words, including her name, So B. It. Therein lies the mystery. Heidi is of the age when she begins to wonder about her background. How did she and Mama come to be on Bernadette's doorstep? From where did they come? Does she have a father? And what does So B. It stand for? As Heidi ponders these questions, she stumbles on some old photographs stowed away in a cupboard. With only a few clues from the photos, Heidi boards a bus alone in a cross-country quest for answers Weeks, author of the middle school Guy series, weaves a tale of refreshing, offbeat characters who by their eccentricities add a magical element to the story. Heidi, for example, has an unexplainable gift of luck. In the Memory game, she knows where the matches are. At the back of the Sudsy Duds Laundromat, she has a "sweet way" with the slot machines when the month's grocery money does not stretch. As the riddle of Heidi's life and Mama's word list, which is used to name each of the twenty-three chapters, slowly unfolds, readers will be genuinely touched and surprised.-Kim Zach PLB $16.89. ISBN 0-06-623623-1. 5Q 4P M J Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.

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