Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Wonder of Wonder and Ivan

     As promised, I am back to day to talk about the two last books I read.  These two books are amazing stories and I hope to see both on the short list of Newbery nominees this year.

    Wonder by RJ Palacio is a fabulous book about a boy who is seriously disfigured.  August Pullman had the complete bad luck of losing a genetic lottery and has spent his life going through surgeries to make it possible for him to eat without a feeding tube and to have a jaw bone, etc.  Because he was constantly having surgeries and recovery time, he has been homeschooled his entire life.  At the beginning of the book Auggie finds out that he will be going to fifth grade at a regular school and he is not very thrilled about the idea.  He knows how people stare and shy away from him in public and he is reluctant to go to school because it will happen there as well.  This book follows August through the entire fifth grade year, telling a remarkable story of bravery.  I love the way the author switches narrators throughout the book so the reader can get the perspective of more than one character.  One of the most touching things in this book is the incredibly tight-knit family and how the parents and August and his sister Olivia really love each other and support each other.  This is an uplifting story that sometimes made me laugh and sometimes made me cry.  I think every kid should read this book and understand that people are more than just their outside appearances.

     The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate tells the story of a gorilla living in a circus mall.  It is based on a true story of a gorilla in similar circumstances.  I love how the author gives us the animals voices and narrates this story from their perspectives.  When a baby elephant comes to live at the mall, Ivan finds that he is sad for her and wishes she had a better place to live.  He works hard to send this message to the people surrounding him.  I was touched by the relationship that Ivan had with the small dog that was there and with the groundskeepers daughter.  Children sometimes have a more perceptive way of looking at the world and in this world that is definitely true.  As I was reading, I made a few connections to one of my favorite kid lit books Charlotte's Web.  Ivan's attempts to gain attention reminded me of Charlotte's messages in the web to save the life of Wilbur.  I am really interested now in reading more about some of the gorillas that have lived in captivity throughout the years.  Perhaps I will look for some of Jane Goodall's books.  I would highly recommend this truly unique book to everyone.  

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