Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website.

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
by Katherine Applegate
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Published 2014 by Clarion Books
Nonfiction Picture Book
40 Pages
Copy obtained from public library.

Goodreads Summary
In a spare, powerful text and evocative illustrations, the Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate and the artist G. Brian Karas present the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla.
Captured as a baby, Ivan was brought to a Tacoma, Washington, mall to attract shoppers. Gradually, public pressure built until a better way of life for Ivan was found at Zoo Atlanta. From the Congo to America, and from a local business attraction to a national symbol of animal welfare, Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla traveled an astonishing distance in miles and in impact.
This is his true story and includes photographs of Ivan in the back matter.

My Thoughts
As a HUGE fan of Applegate's novel The One and Only Ivan, I was beyond excited to find that she had published a picture book of Ivan's life. Although I have read the novel a couple of times, I learned several details that I did not know about Ivan from the picture book text and from the author's notes in the back. Reading this book, I fell in love with Ivan all over again. I enjoyed the touching description provided by Ivan's main zoo handler, Jodi Carrigan, of Ivan's love of painting and his gentle nature. 

With sparse text and fabulous illustrations, this book is perfect for all elementary-aged students. They do not need to have read The One and Only Ivan in order to appreciate this story. However, If you plan to read the novel, I would recommend reading the picture book to your students after you finish as it does give away the ending. 

Use this book...
*as part of a unit on animals or endangered animals.
*as a mentor text to discuss treatment of animals.
*to jumpstart a community service project to help animals. 
*as a nonfiction companion to The One and Only Ivan

The author has a discussion guide on her website.
Animal Planet has nice 2-3 minute video about mountain gorillas here.
Watch to book trailer.

Katherine Applegate discusses the book in this video.


  1. I was satisfied with this book from Katherine Applegate, Gigi, & glad that she's published more of Ivan's story, & for younger students. Loved every part, although it's sad to think that people could just "order" an ape for show. Lots to talk about with students in it!

  2. I was also thinking that I would share the PB with my students AFTER they read One and Only Ivan.

  3. I'm reading the chapter book to my 3rd graders, but I'm excited to read the picture book now. I'll definitely get my hands on this new book. thanks for the information!

  4. This one made me cry. I was glad that I could share Ivan's story with younger students.

  5. I really really have to read Ivan soonest. My copy of The One and Only Ivan has been gathering dust in my shelf - and now there's this new picturebook that everyone seems to be talking about. Thanks for sharing such a detailed review. :)