Happy Monday Everyone! My main focus on this weeks reading was a Newbery Award winner called The One and Only Ivan but I also snuck in some extra reading for the week. So, here we go…
The One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao
This Newbery Award winning book is sure to tug on your heartstrings and make you think. Based on a true story and written in the first person point of view of Ivan, a silverback gorilla, The One and Only Ivan tells the story of life at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan has lived in captivity there for 9876 days. He has gotten used to being behind the glass wall in a shopping mall. He watches tv, eats and makes art. Along with Ivan, Stella an elephant and Bob a stray dog live in the mall with him. When a baby elephant, Ruby arrives from the wild, Ivan realizes that he needs to do something to save her from a lifetime of captivity. Ivan and Ruby semi-escape captivity and are transferred to Zoo Atlanta where a whole new set of challenges await them.
Ivan’s story is bittersweet and captivating but what really gives it qualities to be a Newbery Award winner? Well first, we have to know what goes into choosing a Newbery Award winning book. If you want to see all the criteria, visit the American Library Association’s (ALA) page. Here are some key points that I really feel apply. Newbery awards are given “to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children…” ALA committee member must consider the “interpretation of the theme; presentation of the information; development of plot; delineation of characters; delineation of setting; and appropriateness of style.” Of these criteria, I feel like The One and Only Ivan‘s greatest strengths are its interpretation of the theme and delineation of characters.
Katharine Applegate does an amazing job at making Ivan humanistic and relatable. Ivan is simple and literal with all his words and does not waste words as he thinks humans do. He is loosely based off a real gorilla but Applegate takes it to another level. You can feel Ivan; he speaks to you.
“Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot…They chatter like chimps, crowding the world with their noise even when they have nothing to say” (pg. 2-3).
Readers are faced with Ivan’s loneliness at the very beginning of the book. Throughout the novel, you see Ivan change from simply accepting his fate to a character that no longer sees the mall as a domain or home but instead a cage. The book is morally complex and dense at times, addressing issues of animal abuse and the consequences of confinement.
“People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback./The names are mine, but they’re not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan ” (pg. 2).
I honestly loved this book and would recommend it for anyone and everyone. The end of this book was perfect! Ivan is a giant gorilla that was raised in captivity, so truly there is no ideal ending for him. The book still highlights his problems with being introduced to other gorillas after being alone for so long. Kids can relate to Ivan not only because he is and animal but he shares similar experiences that other children do as well such as moving, losing old friend, and trying to make new friends.
The Book of Mistakes written by Corinna Luyken
This book is a book is all about how we make mistakes. We cannot dwell on our mistakes but should instead use them to inspire our creativity. The illustrations were incredible! This is a great picture book for K-2nd grade to incorporate art and to make predictions of what will happen next. How will the author fix the mistake next?
Unplugged written by Steve Antony
This is a cute story of Blip who loved her computer but one day gets unplugged. She ends up OUTSIDE! Blip makes new friends and gets a new perspective in the end. An adorable book for all elementary grades to teach the value of getting outside and exploring new things. This would be great to read before going outside or on a fieldtrip.
The Table Sets Itself written by Ben Clanton
After setting the table the same way for many meals, Izzy is bored. She ends up finding some creative ways to set the table. Young readers will have fun reading about Izzy and her friends. It is full of puns and cute illustrations but I found it hard to engage in.
Lucy and the String written by Vanessa Roeder
Lucy finds a string that is attached to a bear’s pants but doesn’t know that at first. Throughout the book, Lucy tries to fix a mistake she has made. This book was very simple, cute and charming. I am honestly not sure that I would implement this book in the classroom.
Rabbit and the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf written by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
I honestly did not enjoy this book very much. It is about a rabbit who is hiding from the Not-So-Big-Bad wolf who turns out to be a child in a wolf costume. The illustrations were very good but I had a hard time engaging in the book overall.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone written by J.K. Rowling
Whew, I finished it! I started this book last week and fell even more in love with the series. I hope to continue growing my love for Harry Potter and finish re-reading the series through the course of this semester.