Category Archives: Newbery

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Sometimes I am not sure what motivated a Newbery jury in selecting a particular book. Daunting as their task must be, Newbery novels have been all over the map for me – from books I adore to books in which I just don’t see the merits. But The One and Only Ivan is a delicious, unique, lovely written story. Published by HarperCollins in 2012, this is the 2013 Newbery Award winning novel. 

If gorillas had a human voice, this one rings true as a large primate living in captivity. Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all since he has successfully blocked out the dark events of his past. He has accepted his fate, even if he’d rather be anywhere else.

Ivan’ friends are Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. Bob is a wonderful character, stray by choice. Stella, however, has an elephant’s memory and she has not forgotten how life in the wild was. She has not forgotten nor accepted humans’ brutalities. In between the circus acts in which both Ivan and Stella have to earn their keep, Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then Ruby arrived, a baby elephant taken from her family. She makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
Beautifully and gently told, this story can lead to much contemplation of how humans hunt, and keep animals in captivity. I’ll never again look a zoo gorilla in the eyes without wondering what’s going on behind that high forehead.

http://theoneandonlyivan.com/

Sticks by Joan Bauer

Sticks, Joan Bauer

While I have enjoyed most of Joan Bauer’s books (Hope Was Here, Looking for Alaska, Almost Famous and more) I wasn’t sure when someone recently gave me a copy of Sticks.
Cover? Not that great…
Short content? Said it was about pool and math.
I am not into pool.
And I don’t like math.
But Newbery Award winning author Joan Bauer spins a great tale. Her words, her language drew me right in. I came to care for Mickey. And his motley crew of friends.
They became real. I wanted to know more. What would happen.
I couldn’t put the book down.
One of those wonderful books where you “see the movie in your head” as you read. Where you do want to know how it ends, but you don’t want the ending to come. Which it always does.
OK, maybe it was just a tiny bit predictable. I kept wondering if all would really end well. But the ride was wonderful.
This is a book that especially boys will like. A story about tough kids in a small town. 5th Graders. But there’s just enough girl to make it a story for them, too. A good book for anyone, really. If she’d made it a 7th grader it would have worked too, and more kids would possibly read it.
What intrigued me most is how Joan Bauer weaves playing pool and math together effortlessly. Who knew that pool can be based on math? It sure sounds plausible. Throw in a science project, a bully, a truck, and you have great ingredients.  Let Joan Bauer tell the story and you have… a plain good book you should read.

Then follow up, if you are a teacher, with her teaching guide:
http://joanbauer.com/ToolkitTeachers.html

  • ISBN 13: 9780142404287ISBN 10: 0142404284