January 12, 2015

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate, illusrated by G. Brian Karas

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:26 am by suebe2

The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
by Katherine Applegate
illusrated by G. Brian Karas
Clarion Books

I have to admit that I’ve put off reading this book.  Poor gorilla!  I only picked it up after I saw it on the list for the Nerdy Book Awards 2014, category nonfiction picture books.

Born in the wild, Ivan was one of two infant gorillas captured from the wild and sent to live in the B&I Circus Store.  The store regularly displayed a variety of animals to help draw in customers.  The first thing they did was to hold a contest to name the two gorillas, Burma and Ivan.  Burma failed to thrive in captivity, dying shortly after being named, but Ivan grew and grew.  He lived much like a human child, raised in a human home.  He watched TV, he slept in a bed, and even went to baseball games.

But once he was about five years old, he was too big to treat like a little boy.  Instead, he stayed in his enclosure at the store where he still watched TV, painted pictures and watched the people who stared back at him.  He lived this way for many years until a group of people started to worry.  This wasn’t the way a gorilla should live — in a small space, all alone.  Their letters and petitions paid off and he was sent to a zoo.

This is the second book that Katherine Applegate has written starring Ivan.  The first book, The One and Only Ivan, is a fictional story creted and imagined by Applegate with Ivan as the main character.  This book is nonfiction, a true story about the animal’s life.

I’m not going to lie to you, this wasn’t an easy book to read but it is an amazing story.  And it is one that is sure to stir up a lot of discussion about the differences between a refuge, a zoo and a mall, about the ethics of wild animal capture and more.  Applegate has presented a lot of information for young readers to mull over and they will almost certainly want to discuss it.




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