Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 315

Dynamic Duo: Book 2
Picture Book: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Author: Katherine Applegate

Illustrator: G. Brian Karas

Summary: The first 7 pages of this picture book are about Ivan’s idyllic life with his gorilla family in Central Africa. Then a poacher takes Ivan and another baby gorilla and transports them inside a small crate to Tacoma, Washington where an owner of a shopping mall had placed an order for them “like a couple of pizzas.” They were named Burma and Ivan after a Name the Baby Gorillas Contest. Sadly, soon after their arrival Burma died, and Ivan was alone. For his first three years in America, Ivan lived in a human home and was cuddled and played with by humans.  Eventually he was placed in a cage in the mall where he grew into a silverback gorilla. He had a TV and a few toys, but mostly he watched the people through a window. Shoppers began to react negatively to Ivan’s lonely life, but it wasn’t until he had lived in his cage for 27 years that he was gently moved to Zoo Atlanta where scientists helped him adapt to a more jungle-like lifestyle. There are a few photographs of the gorillas in the back of the book along with some more facts and even a painting by Ivan.  

Hanna’s Comments: This second PBT Dynamic Duo offering about rescued animals is quite different than those offered yesterday. Because this story is beautifully animated and reads less like a documentary and more like a children’s story, the realities of Ivan’s life are not as harsh as my summary might suggest. Do consider the sensitivities of your young audiences though when choosing non-fiction stories or videos about animals that are mistreated. I could have featured many more picture books like these some of which involve cross-species relationships that fascinate scientists. Here are a few others:
Terra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends
Suryia & Rosco: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship
Kate & Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story
Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World

Publisher & Date of Publication: Clarion Books, 2014

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, The back of this book explains that you can access a slideshow about Ivan at

PBT Category: Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abuse/abuse of power, adaptation/assimilation, Africa, America, animals, brokenness, cruelty, the environment/nature, exile/separation, fear, greed/selfishness, growing up/growth, loneliness, neglect, new home/relocation, pets, poaching/stealing/theft, rescue, respect, victims

Scripture Connections: Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6); love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4); let all you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Idea(s) for Application: Use any of these picture books about animals when talking about God’s creative design of various species and how humans have been encouraged to be their caretakers. OR Use these books to speak about the various ways love can be demonstrated, even across species. 

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