site content © 2020 caron levis 

City Bubbles site art copyright ©  Erin Hall

About page photo copyright © Mary Jane Edwards

Blooz illustrations copyright  © Jon Davis 

Ida, Always  & This Way, Charlie illustrations ©  Charles Santoso

Stop That Yawn! art © LeUyen Pham

May I Have A Word? © Andy Rash

Mama's Work Shoes © Vanessa Brantley Newton

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Reviews
 

“I am in awe of this wise, endearing, tender and beautiful—so very beautiful—book, which is sure to become a classic of  children's literature…. The words and the pictures meld perfectly to explore the emotional journey of love and loss, breaking your heart and then beginning to mend it.”      

-Judith Viorst 

Author of the bestselling Alexander books; The Tenth Good Thing About Barney.

 

"An example of children's books at their best." 

-Dan Yaccarino

The New York Times Book Review

 

"More than any other book on loss, Ida, Always manages to tell a story that is just as good at comforting a child experiencing loss as it is at explaining loss to a child who has yet to experience it. This second quality lifts Ida, Always into being “a book for every child."

-PW, ShelfTalker

 

 Starred reviews from Publishers Weekly!  and School Library Journal

 

Awards & Honors:
Recipient of a Christopher Award

 celebrating work that “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”  

Selected by Students for the Sakura Medal 

Awared medal for best English language picture book by students in international schools of Japan. 

Society of Illustrator's Original Art Selection

Charles Santoso's work in Ida, Always was chosen to be apart of this special and prestigous show.  

Goodreads Choice Award Finalist; Cybils Award FInalist; Florida Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award nominee.
 
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About The Book

 

A beautiful, honest portrait of loss and deep friendship told through the story of two iconic polar bears.
     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 be with him—through the sounds of their city, and the memories that live in their favorite spots.
     Ida, Always is an exquisitely told story of two best friends—inspired by a real bear friendship—and a gentle, moving, needed reminder that loved ones lost will stay in our hearts, always.

Behind The Book

It was a funeral for a bug. I was working in a kindergarten class, and one day, during recess, a group of children arranged large blocks and boards into a row of benches and placed a Dixie cup on top of a box upfront. Sitting with exaggerated slowness, the kids tried hard to keep chins lowered as they discussed what to do next. One child, having recently attended a real funeral, explained, "And now some of us will say some nice memories about the bug and some of us can cry. If we want." Eulogies were offered, "It was a good bug...sorry you had to die, bug."  There was some silence, giggles, mock tears, fidgeting. They buried the bug in a patch of dirt, then skipped off to play games like Pirate Ship, Trapeze, and Restaurant.

            The creative, curious ways kids approach matters of life and death, loss and love has often struck me, but the urge to write a book about it came after kids, teachers, and parents had asked me if I was planning to—because, see, someone's dad/grandma/friend/dog/neighbor...has died.  I found the story when a friend sent me an article about Gus & Ida. The story found it's pulse when I recalled a bereaved five year old once telling me, "...I think it's good that we have hearts, and the hearts beat, so we can remember the people we miss." 

            Whether kids have experienced loss directly, or just noticed it around them, they wonder. They imagine, make guesses, and look to trusted adults to help them make sense of it; to let them know it's okay to feel and to talk about it. It's a myth that we protect kids by not talking to them about loss; the opposite is true, it's just tough to do.  I remember being six and staring at traffic lights wondering what people meant when they said Charlie, my first school bus driver had gotten sick and died. Unsure if I was supposed to be feeling so...swooshy.  My mom says when I asked her about it, she wasn't sure what to say, so she looked for a book to help start the conversation.  If Ida, Always can be a part of that conversation, I'll be honored, always.