The Secret School
Harcourt Brace, 2001
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What’s this book about?
More than anything, Ida Bidson wants to become a teacher. To do that, she needs to finish eighth grade so she can go on to high school. But when the one-room school in Ida’s remote Colorado town closes unexpectedly, that dream seems unattainable. Her only hope is to keep the school open without anyone finding out. Yet even a secret school needs a teacher. Ida can’t be it … or can she?
Story Behind the Story
The way The Secret School begins, with fourteen-year-old Ida driving a Model T Ford, but being so short her brother needed to be on the floor working the clutch and brakes, is a true tale, told to me by a bookstore owner who had gone to a one-room school house. Though very young she had a special driver’s license which allowed her to drive—but only back and forth to her one-room school house.
I think it was hearing that story that led me to write The Secret School.
Awards and Recognition
- IRA Teachers’ choice
- IRA-CBC Children’s Choice Award 2002
- Children’s Literature Choice, 2002
- Smithsonian Magazine, Notable Book Of the Year, 2001
- Parent’s Guide Media Awards, 2001
- Children’s Choice nominee, Kansas
- Children’s Choice nominee, South Carolina
- Children’s Choice nominee, California
- Children’s Choice nominee, Iowa
“Humorously effective descriptions, as in the Bidson’s old car ‘hiccupping like a damp firecracker,’ enliven the sense of hardships. The importance of education and dreaming of one’s future are imparted in an entertaining way. This carefully plotted, enjoyable, old-fashioned tale of children taking control of a bad situation is a welcome addition to the literature of empowerment.” (School Library Journal)