Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Karas, G. Brian (Illustrator)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014. 40 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9780544252301 (hardcover)
9780544465572 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

character, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Ivan is a baby gorilla who lives in the Congo with his large family. His life is idyllic until poachers arrive “with loud guns and cruel hands.” They bring Ivan and another gorilla to Washington, where a man has ordered them, like “a couple of pizzas,/like a pair of shoes,” for display in a shopping mall. Although life with humans seems fun at first, Ivan’s companion soon dies and Ivan himself grows too big to be a plaything. He is left behind bars to watch “the humans watching him.” After years of petitions, he is finally transferred to Zoo Atlanta, where he lives out the rest of his life as an adult silverback gorilla, in the tranquil company of his species.

Sparse text is potent and full of poetry, conveying genuine emotion in its careful word choices. The back matter reminds readers of the reality behind the words, with a summary of Ivan’s life and a note from the zookeeper he so deeply affected.

Watercolour illustrations in an earth-tone palette are both reassuring and evocative. Gentle depictions of the shopping-mall gorilla allow the reader to deeply empathize with his plight.

In this powerful true story about the choices humans make to harm or protect the animals we share the planet with, the difficult subject matter is dealt with delicately and will inspire thoughtful reflection on our treatment of animals.

  •  

    Brainstorm facts about gorillas. Use a graphic organizer to record your ideas. Reflect on, revise and add to your chart as you read.

  •  

    As you read, share your reactions to the events in Ivan’s life. Do you feel angry, sad, outraged, indifferent? Explain why you feel this way.

  •  

    Watch some teacher-selected videos of the real Ivan. With a partner or group, discuss any new information you learned and whether your feelings about Ivan’s experiences have changed.

  •  

    Write a paragraph, poem or short story about one of Ivan’s experiences, from his point of view.

  •  

    Discuss how animal rights have changed in the last 50 years. Write a short text on what you believe are the best living conditions for a gorilla (or another animal).

  •  

    Brainstorm what you know about gorillas. Use a KWL chart to record what you Know and what you Want to learn.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk and make predictions about the story. As the story is read aloud, compare and contrast your predictions. Add to your KWL chart.

  •  

    Compare and contrast the attitudes of humans in Jane Goodall’s and Ivan’s books.

  •  

    Find more information about Ivan on a teacher-selected website. Compare the information on the site with that in the book.

  •  

    Discuss how animal rights have changed in the last 50 years. Write a short text on what you believe are the best living conditions for a gorilla or another animal.

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Science and Technology