Thursday, December 27, 2012

Booktalk: The One and Only Ivan (Newbery Award winner, 2013)

Can you keep your eyes closed for part of this booktalk? Good. Close them now. I want you to pretend that you’re a gorilla. Your name is Ivan, and you don’t live in the wild and you don’t live in a zoo. You live in a cage in a mall that has a video arcade and some other encaged animals. Yes, a small, shabby mall. Picture it in your mind. Your cage has thick glass on three sides. From your cage, you can see part of the mall (pinball machines, cotton candy, parking lot with no trees). Humans can see into your cage. Inside your cage, there isn’t much. There’s a t.v. of all things, plus a little plastic pool with dirty water, plus a tire swing.
Now I want you to picture a little girl, named Julia, who is the janitor’s daughter. It doesn’t matter what she looks like, because she likes you. Just picture a young girl with a kind face. She brings you treats. Now I want you to picture an older elephant – that’s Stella, and she lives near you, and a little clever dog, Bob, who comes and goes as he pleases. These are your friends. You’re Ivan the gorilla, and this is your whole world. Keep your eyes closed! Think for a minute what it must feel like to be Ivan. Is it boring? Is it safe? Is it fun? Is it lonely?
You can open your eyes now. Ivan and his friends have spent some time trying to figure out what makes us humans tick, for reasons you’ll see when you read the book. But very few other creatures – human or not – understand what goes on in Ivan’s mind and heart.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. 2012: HarperCollins. 305 pages. Booktalk to intermediate grades and middle school. Newbery Award winner, 2013.

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