BOOK REVIEW: Ida, Always by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
An exquisitely told story of two best friends—inspired by a real bear friendship—and a gentle, moving reminder that loved ones lost will stay in our hearts, always.
Whenever a new picture book shows up, I settle in and read it aloud to my dog.
This is the best way to tell how the story comes together and if it would do well when being read aloud to young story lovers, and has a large bearing on the rating I provide.
When Ida, Always arrived, the routine did not change. We got comfortable on the couch, and I began reading a gorgeously illustrated story of two polar bears who spend every day together, playing and talking and looking out over the city.
And then, one day, Ida isn’t there to meet him when he’s let out of his cave in the morning. And the keeper comes to tell him that Ida is unwell, and she is only going to get weaker over time.
One day, when her body stopped working, Ida would die.
From that day forward, things are different between them, but Gus is still there for Ida.
There were growling days and laughing days and days that mixed them up.
Sometimes Ida needed a moment alone. And sometimes Gus did too.
But at the end of each day, Gus always told Ida, “I’ll miss you.”
And Ida always told Gus, “I’ll miss you, too.”
They talk about what it’s going to mean, and spend lots of quality time together, and this is both a heartbreaking and uplifting tale. It’s about grief and loss and friendship, and about remembering those we love once they’re gone.
Because of the nature of Ida’s passing, this book would be good for talking with kids about a loved one’s terminal illness, whether that loved one be of the human or animal variety.
But be warned, it can be quite hard to get the words out once Ida becomes ill and you inevitably dissolve into tears.
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