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The Secret School [Hardcover]

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 31 2001
More than anything, Ida Bidson wants to become a teacher. To do that, she must finish eighth grade, then go on to high school. But her dream falters when the one-room school in her remote Colorado town shuts down. 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?
In the spirit of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Newbery Medal winner Avi creates an inspiring story of a headstrong girl determined to control her own destiny.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Weaving together a fast-moving plot, solid characterizations, sharply tuned dialogue and a wealth of detail, Avi (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle) offers another satisfying historical novel, this time evoking rural Colorado in 1925. When the teacher at the one-room schoolhouse in Elk Valley must depart unexpectedly, the head of the school board decides to end the academic year right then, a month and a half before the summer break. To his surprise, 14-year-old Ida Bidson protests, because without exit exams, she cannot proceed to high school in the fall. "I'm not so sure a girl needs a high school education," Mr. Jordan retorts, undeterred. Then Ida's friend Tom comes up with a plan: "You're such a gravy know-it-all," he tells her. "You could take over the school when Miss Fletcher leaves." And so she does, swearing the students to secrecy. It's no easy task "Miss Bidson" has to learn self-confidence, and she must keep up with her farm chores and with her own studies. To compound the challenge, the county examiner discovers the secret and agrees to keep it only if all the students take a final exam. Right from the opening scene showing resourceful Ida and her seven-year-old brother driving the family's Model T to school Ida at the wheel hollering directions ("Brake and clutch!") while Felix pushes the pedals with his hands Avi wittily up-ends the usual roles assigned adults and children. A crowd-pleaser. Ages 8-12.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 3-6-"I'm not so sure a girl needs a high school education," the head of a rural Colorado school board tells 14-year-old Ida Bidson in 1925. The one-room schoolhouse that she and seven other children attend is to be closed early, and if Ida and her friend Tom don't finish eighth grade and take their exams, they'll lose their chance to attend high school. Without a diploma, Ida will never fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher and seeing the world beyond the mountains. After Tom suggests that she could conduct the classes, the secret school commences and is subsequently threatened by a county administrator, the local school board, and an angry parent. Avi ably conveys an evocative sense of life in a poor, remote farming community just before the start of the Great Depression. He skillfully creates interesting, fully developed main and secondary characters. Ida's struggles with the difficulties of being both teacher and student and carrying out her duties at home, as well as her worry about whether or not the students will pass the exams, are suspensefully portrayed. Humorously effective descriptions, as in the Bidsons' old car "hiccuping 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.

B. Allison Gray, South Country Library, Bellport, NY

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ON A COOL MONDAY morning in early April 1925, Ida Bidson, aged fourteen, carefully guided her family's battered Model T Ford along a narrow, twisting dirt road in Elk Valley, Colorado. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By Lava1964 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I discovered this book by accident at my public library. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who, in order to graduate from the eighth grade, must take over her small country school for the final two months of the year. It is a wonderful slice of historical fiction.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Response to Literature April 20 2004
By A Customer
The book I read is called The Secret School. It was really good. It was about a girl, Ida Bidson. She wanted to become a teacher, and needed to have her exit exam her eighth grade year. Things were looking good, but then her teacher, Miss Fletcher leaves. Mr. Jordan, the head of school board, decides to close the school instead of finding a new teacher. This breaks Ida's heart because next year may be too late for her to go to high school. Money depends on how well her family farm prospers. Her friend, Tom, mentions her being the teacher. This idea grows to a reality as she teaches secretly for quite a while. Mr. Jordan finds out and tries to close the school. Fortunately this doesn't work. So Ida, along with her students pass the exit exam. Now she can finally have a chance of going to high school.
I thought this was very brave of her to teach at such a young age. I would never have enough courage or confidence to do this. She acts as if it's no big deal. Even though I want to become a teacher someday I know I am far away from my goal. She had problems, but she didn't seem to handle them any different from an experienced teacher. "I'd [meaning Herbert, the troublemaker] sure like to see your make me [referring to the very nervous Ida on her first day.]"All in all she did very well. I hope if I do get to be a teacher myself, I'll be like her.
I most disliked the character of Mr. Jordan. I'm sure Avi meant to make readers dislike him. She did a very good job of it too. He was made out to be mean, bossy. In my opinion I think guys and girls are equal. It might be partly because I am a girl, either way that's how I view it. I think most of today's people agree with me. In the 1920's when this story takes place it was different. Girls were no comparison to the almighty man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Shh It's a Secret!!!! /By:AJY (Grade5) Dec 19 2003
By A Customer
A quiet day in 1925, Ida Bidson and her classmates heard the terrible news. Her teacher had to go take care of her. Mr Jordon was closing the school down for good!!!! Ida felt like tearing every strand of hair out of her head because the exams for high-school was soon what should she do. All of a sudden Tom her best friend had a excellent idea but the idea had to be kept a secret.
I thought this book had great use of vocabulary and I never wanted to put it down. I reccomend this book for 4-6 grade girls and boys. Avi did it AGAIN!!!!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Look at this fantastic book by:NMD Grade 5 Dec 16 2003
By A Customer
It's a plain, regular day in a Colarado one-room school house in the year 1925. Ida Bidson, age 14, hopes to become a teacher. To do that she must finish 8th grade and complete high shcool. Cautiously the other children and Ida discover that Miss Fletcher, the teacher, has to go to Iowa to help her mom because of her mom's sickness. Later on in the book the school shuts down due to the absece of Miss Fletcher. Is this an opportunity for Ida?
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By A Customer
It's 1925 in a one room school house in Colorado. Ida Bidson and her friend Tom are both stuck smack in the middle of copious amounts of dilemmas. Their teacher, Miss. Fletcher,has to leave town and take care of her ill mother. A replacement teacher cannot be found. The one room school house is shut down and Ida and Tom cannot take their final exams. This dilemma punctures their hopes to go to highschool. Tom exhorts Ida to take over and be the new teacher but to keep it a secret. Mr. Jordon, a monsterous teacher on the school board, is who they want to keep it a secret from. Ida thinks, "Should I be the teacher?"
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4.0 out of 5 stars This Book Should Not Be Kept a Secret! April 24 2003
By A Customer
The Secret School By: Avi
Unlike this school, this book should not be kept a secret. This is the story of a young ambitious girl named Ida. She has this crazy idea to start a secret school because her old teacher left. Ida has to face the problem of teaching herself, as well as her peers at the same time. Ida learns to deal with her problems and live life to its fullest! Critic: Maggie
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Secret School April 4 2003
By A Customer
The Secret School by AVI
This book is mainly about a girl named Ida Bidson. Ida is in the 8th grade. She is14 and goes to Elk Valley. The school she goes to is a one room schoolhouse. One morning as Ida drives to school, there is a car no one has ever seen before. Once everyone was let into the school house they noticed it was Mr.Jordan, the man that owned the school . He anounced the school will be shut down because Miss Fletcher, the teacher, must go take care of her ill mother. The children don't want the school to close and vote on whether or not to have a secret school . The class decides Ida will be the teacher. Do you think they can pull their secret school off? Read the book and find out. I recomend this book for 4th and 5th graders. I liked this book because it was funny and caring. I recommend you read The Secret School.
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4.0 out of 5 stars you will love it ! I did. April 3 2003
By A Customer
The Secret School takes place in Elk Valley,Colorado in 1925. I thought this book was interesting because it is about a class who finds out that their teacher is leaving. Ida is one of the students and she is worried that Tom and she will not get to take their final exams if Mrs.Fletcher, the teacher, has to leave to take care of her sick mother. So Ida and the rest of the class take a vote and they all elect to keep the school running,but not to tell anyone that Ida is the new teacher. The biggest problem was that Ida got tired of being teacher because she wanted to keep up with her studies. Soon there is to be a meeting to shut down the school because Mr.Jordan found out about the secret school.They all got their exams back except Herbert I won't give away the ending. So I hope you read this book.
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