The author is happy in the belief that it will be, at least, a safe companion for the young, encouraging no morbid sensibilities or sickly fancies, and perverting no principles of morality; but that its tendency, so far as it may have any influence, will be found beneficial to individual virtue and happiness, and the true interests of society.
Critics agreed with her. The writer for the Southern Quarterly Review noted: "There is not a page, — scarcely a sentence, — in the work, that does not embody some useful lesson of instruction." Principally, her lessons are domestic ones: the behavior of children and parents, in particular. The title character Ida Norman is, like her brother, a spoiled teenager who must learn to live a purer life.
Phelps had also published a few textbooks on science and similar topics. As her fame grew as an educator, she moved from her home town in Connecticut to Troy, New York to Westchester Pennsylvania, to New Jersey and, finally, to Maryland. Her preface to Ida Norman was written on her birthday (she was born July 15, 1793). That same day in 1884, she died at the age of 91.