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

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine ApplegateG. Brian Karas is an invaluable addition to the shelves and ideal companion to Applegate's 2013 Newbery Gold Medal winner, The One and Only Ivan. Written in free verse, The One and Only Ivan is one of a handful of Newbery winners that can be read and understood by younger readers, which is especially nice. Now, with the picture book companion, even younger readers (and listeners) can learn the story of this amazing creature and, hopefully, be inspired to read The One and Only Ivan one day.

What Applegate, with her carefully chosen words and Karas, with his earth-toned illustrations with occasional bursts of red (Ivan's favorite color, as we learn in a note from his main keeper at the Zoo Atlanta) do in this book is present an act of human brutality, followed by inhumane treatment that went on for decades in a way that young audiences can begin to grasp. While I was in tears reading The One and Only Ivan, then again as I read Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, I have to remind myself that children aren't affected in the same way by sad stories. What they take away from Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla will be forward-looking and hopefully proactive. 

Applegate's retelling of Ivan's life takes the reader up to his integration into a troop of gorillas at Zoo Atlanta. "In leafy calm, in gentle arms, a gorilla's life began again," are the final words in Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, accompanied by a photograph of Ivan, which is the perfect ending to this book, leaving the details of his death at age fifty-two (old for a gorilla in captivity) for the author's notes. Two pages of Applegate's notes, along with more photographs, provide more detailed information about Ivan, his twenty-seven years alone in a cage in the mall and the eighteen years he lived at Zoo Atlanta, followed by Jodi Carrigan's remembrances, which are especially moving.

For a rare glimpse into the mind of an illustrator, be sure to visit G. Brian Karas's http://gbriank.wordpress.com/"target="_blank">blog where he talks about the process of deciding how to illustrate Ivan's story - and under a tight deadline. Karas notes that, where Applegate told Ivan's story in his own words in 
The One and Only Ivan, Karas's job with this book was to tell the story through Ivan's eyes.

Source: Review Copy

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