Looking for love? Try IDA, ALWAYS

Gus_IdaLoveĀ  is a wonderful thing.

And if you’re lucky, it lasts for always.

Of course, always is a relative term. When Isaac and Monica — characters in John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS — text each other “Always,” they have no idea how short that time period will be. Young love is fickle like that.

But Gus and Ida, two polar bears at New York’s Central Park Zoo, have a pretty good idea that their always won’t last forever. Ida is sick and one day she will die. They know this because the zookeeper told them so.

That’s the premise of IDA, ALWAYS, a picture book written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso, published this year by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. It’s based on a true story, and the way Levis and Santoso depict the bears is truly lovely. It’s a simple story. The bears spend their days together splashing water, rolling a ball and imaging what life in the city might be like even though they can’t see it.

That doesn’t change once Ida knows she’s sick. She sleeps more, and Gus and Ida talk about where she might go and what that space might be like, but most of the time they do the things they always did. Like in this lovely section:

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 would cuddle until the sky grew dark and the lamps of the city clicked on.
They would wave good night a thousand times.
Then wave a few times more.

And then, when Ida’s time comes, Gus does the things he and Ida always did.

And even though he can’t see her, he knows she’s there.

Check out this beautiful book for a love story for the ages.


  1. I want this one! Thanks so much for telling about it. I’ll see if our public library has it. I’m going to the bookstore today or tomorrow. I’ll find it!

  2. How sweet! Sounds like an adorable book!

  3. Sounds sad and lovely, like a book that would bring tears to my eyes as I read it.

  4. Oh, this sounds sad and beautiful at the same time. I think I’m going to love this book…

  5. Kathy Mazurowski

    I just read this book from the library. There are so many reasons I love this book. It is a heartfelt, thoughtful story.

  6. This special book is so heart felt and sweet. Such an important issue told in a sensitive and powerful way – love this book, always!

  7. As soon as I heard about this book, I ordered a copy! It’s so tender and touching. Grab your box of tissues before reading it though! And Charles Santoso’s illustrations are very sweet. Thanks, Pat!

  8. I just read this yesterday and was bawling halfway through it. The writing was beautiful, poignant and the illustrations…absolutely gorgeous.

  9. Uh, oh. I could already feel the tears coming just reading your description. Sounds like a gem–thanks for sharing.

  10. I’m going to seek out this book at our local store- sounds perfect to explain some things to our little one!

  11. This book is waiting for me on HOLD, and today I get to pick it up. I can’t wait!
    Thank you for the inspiring review and peek into this remarkable book.

  12. oh wow! I’m already crying just reading the review! can’t wait to see the book.

  13. Ohhh… I feel the tear coming on already. Picking up this lovely book from the library ASAP.

  14. This sweet little story makes me sob every time I read it.

  15. This sounds lovely. Must investigate! Thanks! evie

  16. This sounds both tender and poignant.

  17. This is a beautiful, well-done book!

  18. I’m misty and choked up just reading this! How beautiful!

  19. Oh – heartbreaking but beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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