It's that time of year again. The summer always passes by too quickly, and before you know it, school is back in session. Back-to-school jitters can be a challenge to manage, and the transition from days off in the sunshine with family to days inside with new classmates and unfamiliar faces can be hard. Stories can be very therapeutic. They can help your youngster deal with stressful situations like making new friends and reconnecting with those they haven't seen over the holiday.
The One and Only Ivan is a story of friendship. This 2013 Newbery Medal-winning book is written by Katherine Applegate, who you may remember as the co-author of the highly popular Animorphs series from the mid-90s.
Ivan, our main character, was inspired by an actual living gorilla. He was captured as a baby in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and brought to Washington state to live in a shopping mall. For over 25 years, tourists were drawn to the mall to see him. This experience had its ups and downs for Ivan, and luckily, he lived the rest of his life in a beautiful habitat at the world-famous Zoo Atlanta.
Image via Amazon
In the book, we learn about Ivan's life in captivity at a once thriving, but now rundown mall. He meets new friends as the mall owner tries to revive people's interest by acquiring new wild animals. A baby elephant, Ruby, is added to the cage next door. They become friends, but not without some challenges as both have stories of their past lives that continue to affect them. Ivan, who was an artistic gorilla in real life, deals with some of his and Ruby's problems through his expressive crayon drawings.
This book is beautifully put together with illustrations by Patricia Castelao. These images help the reader see exactly what these animals are experiencing. Some days are filled with laughter and smiles while other days show the reader how to get through a tough time with the help of friends.
[Cover image via Movie & TV Corner]
Kendra Perkins is Head Librarian at an international school. She was coordinator for the Shanghai Librarians Network and Ambassador of China for the International Librarians Network. Find her at www.TheInspiredLibrarian.com