Bringing the story of Ivan into the classroom is so much fun because kids love animals and his story is so interesting and endearing. It's hard to find stories with real emotion that both the boys and the girls will buy in to, but this story manages to do it.
We are almost finished reading The One and Only Ivan right now in class. My students are hooked. What I love about this story is that it is just a little tricky for fourth graders to comprehend, even when read aloud, because there is a lot of inferring. It's perfect because that happens to be what we are working on in reading right now. It's also quick and easy to find great mentor sentences to lift and use during writing time- especially for incorporating figurative language. The writing is beautiful.
As I was browsing the shelves at the bookstore the other day, I found this new treasure... Ivan the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. I picked it up immediately and added it to my stash.
I love the contrast between the the true story of Ivan the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla and the One and Only Ivan. In writing, we've been working on telling narrative stories and turning our true stories into fictional stories- this was PERFECT. The author (Katherine Applegate wrote both books- bonus!!) took the true story and made it a "story we wish existed" by adding fictional characters to tell her story. It is exactly what we are working on! It honestly could not have been a more perfect fit or perfect timing.
PLUS, now that I'm in Seattle, the location of the "Big Top Mall" ("B&I Mall" in real life) is located in Tacoma, WA so my students were extra interested because it took place so close to us.
The Urban Gorilla was a movie made about Ivan that tells his story. The kids love seeing "the real Ivan" because they already feel like they know him. If you're interested in watching the entire video, I included the link below where you can watch it online- or show parts of it to your class.
Since I read this book closer to the beginning of the year this year, I think I will have my class adopt a gorilla through WWF, since we will have the rest of the year to enjoy a pet gorilla. Plus I can count this as a class pet and maybe be off the hook for the year.
You can learn even more about Ivan (and gorillas) by visiting these websites...