IVAN

I recently read a most wonderful book called The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. You can read my review of that book HERE. I really liked that book a lot! And a lot of other folks did too. It was (and still is!) a very popular book. Everyone who reads it falls in love with the gorilla, Ivan. The One and Only Ivan is a fictional story about a REAL gorilla. Ms Applegate decided that she needed to tell the REAL story of Ivan. In a picture book.

IMG_1538IVAN
THE REMARKABLE TRUE STORY
of the
SHOPPING MALL GORILLA
by Katherine Applegate
illustrated by G. Brian Karas
published by Clarion Books in 2014

A non-fiction book suitable for ages 4 and up

Themes – gorillas, animal welfare and conservation

It begins –
In leafy calm,
in gentle arms,
a gorilla’s life began.

This is a powerful story for all the ages – young and old alike. It is a true story of a gorilla who was born in the wilds of Africa and brought to the United States to be a sideshow attraction at a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington. The book begins with a tale of a baby gorilla’s idyllic life in the jungle with Mom and Dad and siblings and cousins. Then the baby gorilla finds himself in a dark box going on a long journey. In the beginning of his new life he was loved and coddled just like a human baby. He wore clothes and ate human food. This was long ago in the 1960s and people evidently didn’t know any better. They didn’t think about whether they were doing the right thing by this little gorilla.

IMG_1541After time, Ivan got to be too big for his fairy tale life and he was moved to a giant cement cage at the shopping mall. There was a window through which he could watch the humans who stared back at him. Long, lonely, boring years passed and then people started wondering whether the mall gorilla was at all happy about his circumstances. These people started to protest and complain and eventually, after 27 years at the mall, Ivan was moved to the Atlanta Zoo where he spent his last years with grass and trees and other gorillas. He died in 2012 – probably a happy gorilla. He was 50 years old.

Ivan’s story as told by Ms Applegate, is pure poetry. It is a brutal story, but one filled with hope and love. Ms Applegate’s words are lyrical and Rhythmic. Mr Karas’s illustrations are softened realism. Magical.

At the back of the book there is more information about Ivan and a letter from one of his keepers. There is also a list of resources for further study.

This is an incredible little book that everyone should read – along with Ms Applegate’s fictional version, The One and Only Ivan.

HERE’s a great interview with Ms Applegate.

And the original NY Times article that sparked her imagination.

Find out more about the book and see a trailer HERE.

Find out more about Gorilla conservation HERE at the International Gorilla Conservation website.

And then go visit your local zoo and study the gorillas!

Now you might want to visit Ms Susanna Hill’s blog HERE for a list of Perfect Picture Books and some great resources to go with! It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!!

Ivan at the B & I Shopping Mall

Ivan at Zoo Atlanta –

May your days be filled with love and understanding
Your library friend
Rhythm

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The One and Only Ivan

IMG_3871You may, or may not, know that I have a thing for gorillas. I have spoken of them on several occasions. I grew up with a pet gorilla that kept me safe at night, and I like to read books about gorillas.

I heard about this book, The One and Only Ivan, some time ago. It won the Newbery Medal in 2013. I heard about how fabulous it was and how sad it was. Recently I got to find out for myself. The Mom Person decided it was time to have a quiet sit down and read the book.

IMG_0159The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
illustrations by Patricia Castelao
published by Harper in 2012

This is a fiction book based on a real gorilla. It’s the story of Ivan, a gorilla caught in the wild as a baby, who grew up as a pet wearing clothes and being treated as a human baby, then spent 27 years living in a cage in a shopping mall. Yes, 27 years. In a shopping mall. With no grass or trees or other gorillas. And not even a chance to go shopping!

The story is told in Ivan’s voice. This gives some real power to the tale. Ivan is a pretty easygoing fellow and doesn’t complain about the life that he has been given. He has friends in the mall circus – an elephant named Stella, a little homeless dog named Bob, and a little girl named Julia. Stella is an elderly elephant who performs in the mall circus every day. Bob likes to sleep on Ivan’s belly. And Julia is a budding artist who gave Ivan his first crayon. Ivan loves drawing and creating pictures. His keeper sells his artwork at one of the stores in the mall.

One day a new baby elephant arrives named Ruby. Ruby was taken from her home in the wild and brings new vision to the mall inhabitants. She causes Ivan to take a more realistic look at his surroundings and his life. This all leads to an interesting conclusion that I won’t tell you about – you’ll have to read the book!

IMG_0158This was a fantastic book! I loved hearing Ivan’s voice in my head. There were some sad parts in the book, but ultimately it was not a sad story, it was a story of hope and friendship and found joy. Ivan was a gentle soul with a big heart and great strength of character. He is my new super hero!

Everyone should read this book. Again and again.

The real Ivan lived out the last years of his life at the Atlanta Zoo. He died in 2012. He was 50 years old! You can find out more about him at the Atlanta Zoo website HERE.

Ms Applegate did an interview with NPR that you can listen to-or read if you prefer- HERE.

You can find out more about the book at the official The One and Only Ivan website HERE.

And a fun video brought to my attention by writersideup —

A book trailer done by librarian Julie Hembree –

I wish you a weekend full of joy and friends!
Your library friend
Rhythm

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