What a fantastic book! I rode the entire emotional rollercoaster with Ivan throughout the entire novel! As I read, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the story. I was definitely deep reading while reading this book. Out of the numerous processes that occur during deep reading, I think the two I used most common were insight and reflection. Although I, as many others probably do, like to think that animal cruelty is not a big problem, this novel helps you realize that it is. The novel gave the reader insight to the animals’ feelings, as well as the cruelty endured, and in turn, a deep reader reflected upon those insights. It makes you reflect on how you would have felt if you were in their situation, and it makes you reflect on your actions and how you have treated animals. They are just like humans – they need food and water to survive, and if they get malnourished, unfortunately they may die. When I read about the cruelty that some of the animals endured, I began generating ideas of how to incorporate this into a upper-elementary classroom, and perhaps do a service project against the cruelty of animals, such as volunteer at Friends for Animals.
This novel was different from other typical children’s novels for a few reasons. The chapters and sentences in the book are very short, which make it an easy and quick read. This format would be great for struggling readers because they wouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the text that is usually present in a novel. Also, the novel is written in very descriptive language. Many authors try to capture this aspect, but Katherine Applegate is a magnificent descriptive writer. Students can easily visualize the text while they read. In addition, this novel was written from the perspective of Ivan, a gorilla. Most children’s novels have humans as their main characters. Students would love this book. Children love animals, and I think that is what is especially appealing about this novel. Students will be able to relate to at least one of the characters and the emotions they experienced (loneliness, pain, hurt, sadness, friendship), if not more. My kinders couldn’t read it of course, but I could read some parts of the novel aloud. This book could definitely be included with an animal theme, and with it I could discuss the importance of taking care of animals and the proper way to treat them. Children are never too young to learn how they should treat animals. Before or after reading this book, I would tell them that this book was written based on a real gorilla, and I would hold a discussion asking them why they thought the author would write that book. Our schools provide us a link to a few different zoos so that we can watch wildlife in their habitats, and I would definitely incorporate that when teaching the book/theme.