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Ida, Always

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  2,179 ratings  ·  546 reviews
Gus lives in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city, and he spends his days with Ida. Ida is right there. Always.

Then one sad day, Gus learns that Ida is very sick, and she isn’t going to get better. The friends help each other face the difficult news with whispers, sniffles, cuddles, and even laughs. Slowly Gus realizes that even after Ida is gone, she will still
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Becky R. Children through adults. It is a tender little book about illness and death, but one that is approached with such sweetness, that it would be appropri…moreChildren through adults. It is a tender little book about illness and death, but one that is approached with such sweetness, that it would be appropriate for children.(less)
Dana This story is for children 4-8 years of age. I highly recommend an adult reads this book with a young child. This way they will be able to answer any …moreThis story is for children 4-8 years of age. I highly recommend an adult reads this book with a young child. This way they will be able to answer any questions.(less)

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Average rating 4.47  · 
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 ·  2,179 ratings  ·  546 reviews

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Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ida, Always by Caron Levis is a powerful children's picture book that I had a hard time finishing because I was overcome with emotion. Now that we've read it a handful of times, it's a pleasure.

This is a story for all ages and deals with grief and loss. The illustrations are beautiful and make the story feel heartfelt and present.

The author's note at the end is touching.

Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tender and sweet, sad yet comforting as Gus and Ida each come to terms with Ida's sickness and the end of her life. A touching story that brings tears to your eyes as you recall your own happy memories of friends gone by. True friendship remains forever in the heart. ...more
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful story, true to life, heartwarming and heartbreaking all in one short story. I loved this book even though I cried through much of it. Excellent reading!
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book made me cry. Seriously, this has ALL THE FEELS. If you're uncomfortable about crying in public over a picture book, read this somewhere private.

It is beautifully written and focuses on two polar bears in a zoo and how their friendship changes when one gets sick. It deals with love and grief and loss and sadness, but tries to end on a hopeful note. I love this book. I LOVE IT. I could only give five stars, but my heart gives it a billion.
If I were to ONLY AND SOLEY consider the internal, deep down themes and featured lessons of Caron Levis' Ida, Always, I would definitely and with no reservations whatsoever consider it a sweetly gentle, as well as indeed also reassuring and tenderhearted story of how to deal with the impending death of a loved one (basically how Gus the polar bear learns to accept that his polar bear companion Ida is slowly but surely dying and actually equally how Ida also prepares herself for the time when she ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Each year I and my family read and rate all the Goodreads picture book nominees. This one is nominated for 2016. I make a few comments and then add their separate ratings and a comment. There's 15 and this is the ninth being rated. My rating might be somewhat influenced by the family, naturally. For this book I actually rated it down a bit from my higher rating because the fam thought as a story it was just okay. Hard-hearted! :)

This is a book based on true story about two bears living in a zoo
Feb 19, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: picture-books
I pretty much cried just reading the reviews of this.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Easy to be cynical about the anthropomorphism and the pulling of the heart-strings, but I can't. I just adore the characters and the writing style and the gorgeous art... and the fact that it's true... too much to be other than enraptured. Highly recommended to animal lovers and anyone with a heart.

I do not recommend it as bibliotherapy in the immediate conjunction of a child's loss; it's too much, too intense. However, it'd be a great read at any other time, to be remembered as need arises.
Laura Harrison
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary. Yes, it is sad. But it is hopeful. Santoso's illustrations are so warm there is an absolute comfort throughout the book. This will probably become a classic loss book. Deservedly so. Up there with The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst and Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. Terrific writing on a super hard topic. ...more
Rashika (is tired)
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
That feel when picture books punch you right in the feels :')
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Gentle Children's Stories About the Loss of a Loved One
Gus was a polar bear who lived in a park in the midst of a big city. He spent his days with Ida, another polar bear in his enclosure. Every morning, Ida was there. She was there to play ball. She was there to splash and swim with him. She was there to run and chase. Ida was always there... until the day she became ill. As both Gus and Ida adjust to the idea that they will soon be parted, they confront the mystery of death - where will Ida be, once she is gone? - and the reality of loss. Gus's de ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This fictionalized story of two polar bears who lived in New York City's Central Park Zoo is absolutely gorgeous and touching! Both the artwork and the text are a delight to read and filled with emotion. Ida and Gus are best friends. They toss the ball to one another, splash each other, and chase and play. Ida is always right there by his side. Always. Until one day, Ida gets very sick and the zookeeper explains to Gus that she is going to die. And then their relationship slows down, softens and ...more
Jillian Heise
Oh, my heart, this book! I couldn't even finish because the tears were flowing. It's beautiful in illustration, story, and sentiment. I knew exactly who I wanted to buy it for halfway through (a cousin who is a hospice nurse). Having picture books that are sensitive to grief and loss, but also handle it in a way that the story is meaningful and engaging are important, and this book does that.
Pair with another new one this year, Always Remember.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Cybils finalist for best fiction picture book.
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
I'm currently doing a reference search to help a patron find books to explain a terminal cancer diagnosis to her child, so I'm looking through a lot of picture books on bereavement, death, and dying.

This one is the best I've seen yet. The illustrations are beautiful, striking and charming, guaranteed to make you sympathetic to the story. The words themselves are simple, and tell a beautiful story. I cried real tears, twice, while reading it.

But the best part is that this book takes the reader th
Anna Nesterovich
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
There is a lot of five- and four-stars review, but not so much is heard from those who didn't like the book. Well, I didn't like it. It says that it's based on a real story of two polar bears in a zoo and was inspired by the great sadness of zoo visitors following the death of one of them, Ida. I guess, the author tryed to turn it around and make a book for children of how to cope with a loss of a loved one. First of all, no matter how touching the story is for adults, I don't think it works tha ...more
Polar bears Gus and Ida are the best of friends and spend their days side by side at the zoo listening to the sounds of the city around them. Gus soon learns that Ida is sick; he must learn to say goodbye.

What a tearjerker! These two friends are so sweet, I definitely had tears in my eyes by story's end. The text is soft and slow and does a great job of covering the grieving process and the acceptance of death. Put this on the shelf alongside Mo Willems' City Dog, Country Frog.

Digital illustrati
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
A soulful picture book that is loosely inspired by the true story of two polar bears, Gus and Ida, who lived at the Central Park Zoo. The polar bears are inseparable and when Ida gets sick and dies, Gus must learn to cope. This is a heartbreaking picture book about loss and healing that will be hard to read dry-eyed.
Goshen PL Childrens
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: staff-reads-2017
I hugged this book when I finished it, but I couldn't speak for a little while. It is sad, but sweet - a lovely story about death and dying, but it also tells the story of two friends and the wonderful memories they made. ...more
Oof, my heart. This is beautiful. The story, the artwork, the writing. While it was hard reading this a week after my dog died, it helped. I know like Ida, she's with me always. I want this book for my own personal collection. Great for helping any child deal with death. ...more
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A book to cry with, a pair to care about.

The way the illustrations incorporate the city into the zoo and Gus and Ida's life is superb and stunning.
Lauren Waters
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love the honest message of hope this story brings to the struggle of loss and grief.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
It’s is a wonderful book for kids that introduces the concept of dying.
Sarah Krajewski
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How we loved this story of Ida and Gus! ❤️
Becky R.
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I can't say enough about this children's book. This little book packs a wallop of a punch, and is powerful in its message and theme. Set around the lives of two polar bears in the New York Zoo, and a real story of these two--Gus and Ida--polar bears at that, the book traces the friendship between these sweet-looking bears. Then, almost immediately, we find that Ida is sick and not herself. Her friend, Gus, must figure out how to deal with Ida's illness and his own loneliness.

One of the
Jeff Corrigan
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Simply, brilliant. A beautiful, touching, and emotional book that is simultaneously heartwarming and sad, yet up lifting. Inspired by real polar bears Gus and Ida at the Central Park Zoo, in New York City, whose endearing friendship is strong, both in life and death. Sorrow and loss are difficult lessons to learn for anyone, especially for children. Ida and Gus teach readers that although we may suffer great loss, true love and friendship transcends death and teaches us that we continue to carry ...more
Nancy Kotkin
Two polar bears are inseparable companions at New York City's Central Park Zoo until one bear becomes ill and dies. This picture book serves as a model of coping with chronic illness, impending death, and the accompanying grief. The use of wild animals creates a gentle springboard for discussion about humans or domestic pets in a similar situation.

Beautiful illustrations enhance the text. The bears' emotions really come to life through their actions and facial expressions. I loved Charles Santos
Suzannah Burris
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WOW. This story is absolutely stunning. It is well written, the illustrations are captivating and beautiful, and the meaning of the story is so powerful. I did not read this book as a kid but totally can see how much of an impact this books could have on how children process and view the loss of a loved one. The touching story is simple and easy to follow, but carries a lot of weight that if unpacked and processed effectively, I believe students will be able to have a deeper understanding of hav ...more
Lindsi (Do You Dog-ear?)
Ida, Always left me a sobbing mess, and I struggled to finish the rest of the book. My kids were looking at me like I had two heads. The girls had no idea why I was crying, and my son kept asking me questions that only made me sob harder. This is a truly marvelous book about friendship and love. I think these two bears show us what it means to be selfless and how to mourn the loss of a loved one. Sometimes we need to roar and growl, and other times we need to cuddle and cry. Brilliant book!

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Caron Levis is the author of the picture books, May I Have A Word? (FSG) Stuck with the Blooz (HMH) and Ida, Always (Atheneum) which the New York Times Book Review calls, "an example of children's books at their best." Forthcoming titles include Stop That Yawn! (Atheneum, 2018) and Mama's Shoes (Abrams 2019) Caron is an adjunct professor and the coordinator for The New School's Writing for Childre ...more

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