First up: IDA, ALWAYS.
Warning – this one is a real tear-jerker. I was warned. I still cried while reading it to my youngest son. The next day I read it to myself, and I cried again! But it is sooooo good!
TITLE: IDA, ALWAYS
AUTHOR: Caron Levis
ILLUSTRATOR: Charles Santoso
PUBLISHER: Antheneum Books for Young Readers/2016
OPENING LINES: Gus lived in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city. Buildings grew around him and shifted the shape of the sky. Zookeepers poked in and out. Visitors came and went. But every morning, when keys clicked and shoes clacked, Gus crawled out of his cave and spend his day with Ida. Ida was right there. Always.
This is a story, inspired by two polar bears who lived in New York City’s Central Park Zoo, about Gus and his best friend, Ida. Through lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, the author and illustrator tell a story of love, loss, and grief. Have your tissues handy, but read to the end. I promise, it’s so worth it!
TITLE: WHERE BEAR?
AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR: Sophy Henn
PUBLISHER: Philomel Books/2015
OPENING LINES: Once there was a bear cub . . . who lived with a little boy. But over time the bear cub grew . . . and grew . . . and grew!
What is to become of Bear? When the boy realizes Bear was “just too big and bearish to be living in a house” he decides it’s time for Bear to move on. “But where, bear?” And so the story goes. I love Sophy Henn’s use of a simple premise and repeated refrain that asks not only the bear, but the reader, a question. Her art is adorable: bold graphics with soft, curved lines and a muted color palette. I could go on and on, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out “where,” indeed!