Of all the picture books I read last year, Ida, Always touched my heart like no other. This beautifully written story by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso takes readers on a powerful journey of love, friendship, and loss. It shows how a heart swells, how it breaks in two, and how it magically begins to mend again.
Gus loved Ida. Ida loved him back. They shared a special relationship. Days were fun when they had one another.
“Ida was right there. Always.”
But one day, Ida became ill. It didn’t happen right away, but eventually Ida passed away. And even though it made Gus sad, he knew that somehow, Ida would always be with him.
“And Ida is right there. Always.”
I can’t tell the story nearly as well as Levis did. Trust me when I say that it is so much more powerful than I’ve portrayed it.
In addition to the story, Levis adds author notes to say that thought the work is a piece of fiction, it was inspired by a pair of polar bears, Ida and Gus, from New York City’s Central Park Zoo. Ida became ill and passed away in 2011, but she and Gus made many wonderful memories and great fans.
(Gus and Ida from 2002.)
Levis was lucky enough to observe Gus while she worked on this story. What a wonderful opportunity that must have been!
If you find yourself in a book store or library, I highly recommend Ida, Always. No matter what experience you’ve had with love and loss, it will touch your heart and leave a soft spot there for two inseparable polar bears.
- Age Range: 4 – 8 years
- Grade Level: Preschool – 3
- Hardcover: 40 pages
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 23, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1481426400
- ISBN-13: 978-1481426404