In books, as in life, there are people we admire who have qualities we’d like to mirror. In April, Newsbee celebrates “Memorable Characters” in three amazing new books that are sure to become personal favorites. Get set to meet a pair of polar bears, a past president with panache, and a brave boy with baseball on the brain — sure you’ll be thrilled to get to know them. Until next month, Page On!

* * * * * * * * * * *

His name is Gus; hers is Ida. Inspired by a true story, the tale of their devotion makes “Ida, Always,” by Caron Levis, a memorable read.

Gus and Ida lived in the New York City Central Park Zoo where they were inseparable. After hours of play, they’d flop down on their favorite rock and soak up the sounds of the “city’s heartbeat,” as Ida called it.

Gus grew worried one day when Ida didn’t appear at the entrance to her cave. He waited and waited, “Still Ida didn’t come.” But the zookeeper Sonya did, and the news she bore was devastating. Ida was gravely ill; her condition would worsen. Nothing could be done.

The two bears decided to make the most of what time they did have. Their bond touched the hearts of inhabitants of the big city, a metropolis that mightily mourned Ida’s passing.

Gorgeous paintings by Charles Santoso bring “Always Ida” to everlasting life, her image visible in clouds that float in the pastel sky like cotton candy.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Our 32nd president served his country from 1933-1945, and brought unique attributes to the White House. “Nice Work, Franklin” by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain is an uplifting tale about FDR, his contributions and challenges.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was set on being president just like Theodore Roosevelt. He wore the same style of glasses, grew a matching mustache, even copied the way his relation said, “DEE-lighted.”

FDR launched his career as a legislator, enjoying success following in Teddy Roosevelt’s shoes. FDR’s life was pretty much all “chocolate and sunshine” until he got polio at age 39. So began challenges FDR could never have imagined and a story that’s DEE-lightful as it spells out how difficult it must have been for him to lead his country, all the while exclaiming, “No sob stuff, please.”

Detailed illustrations by Larry Day portray the highlights of FDR’s administration, and the obstacles America faced. “Nice Work, Franklin” spotlights a president who “couldn’t walk” but who took “big steps to help America.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Wise Jeremiah is a 12-year-old with strikes against him. “Soar” is his story, a superb book by the incomparable Joan Bauer.

Abandoned by his mother when he’s only an infant, Jeremiah scores with Walt, his adoptive father, a computer/robot geek who loves him unconditionally. He’s there for Jeremiah, caring and devoted to him as he deals with health issues.

Heart transplants aren’t a walk to first base, as Jeremiah discovers, but he adapts, and is able to enjoy baseball, not playing it, but being the world’s biggest fan, if you exclude Walt, that is.

When a job transfer takes Walt and Jeremiah out of St. Louis, away from their beloved Cardinals, father and son lament their loss, but welcome the opportunities that life in a small town in Ohio provides, a place mad about baseball, and home to a winning high school team. When one of the players dies unexpectedly, the dark cloud hovering over the team comes to light.

Moral lessons abound in this book about an MVP who never swings a bat, but draws accolades on the field of life. Jeremiah’s take on doing the right thing, makes “Soar” a grand slam.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.