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.I don't often get the chance to pick up new children's books, or any for that matter unless I'm browsing in B&N or the library and take the opportunity to flip through a few as they are expensive little boogers, but when I was offered the chance to read this one by the publisher I couldn't resist. I knew nothing of the story, surprisingly, until I came in to contact with it through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Instagram and then I knew I wanted to see more.
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.
I have to start by saying that I absolutely love the illustrations in this book. They're gorgeous. G. Brian Karas did a fabulous job with the material. I would love to have each illustration as a print for my wall. Just a great style all the way around and they fit the story, and I think that the cuteness of the illustrations would help to soften the harsher aspects of the story for the young readers.
As for the story itself, it was written simply and beautifully. The language flows well, and after having read it out loud to myself (Yes, I've been known to do that on occasion!) I have to say it sounds good. The story itself is broken down into language that is simple enough for a child to understand while not taking anything from Ivan's true story. Though sad things happen, because Ivan's story isn't always a pleasant one, I don't think it's too much for a young child to handle. And one of the best parts is the fact that in the very back of the book there are actual pictures of Ivan and a slightly more detailed version of his story, complete with links that can be further researched if you want more information. A great touch!
Over all I think it was an excellent story and definitely one that I would recommend to my friends or family members with younger children. In fact, I plan on passing my copy along to just such a person because I definitely think it's a great read for families.