Books in the Middle: Reading for Middle School

Our focus is on books middle school students might like to read and topics pertaining to books for these students, and we are giving recommendations. Teachers, librarians and middle school students are the contributors to this blog. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

A Mighty Friend April 22, 2013

Three words that come to mind when I describe the book The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate are: friendship, art, and promises.

Cover of The One and Only Ivan

Ivan is a gorilla living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. He is the only gorilla there and grew up around humans after his owner Mack bought him for the Big Top Mall. The billboard posted at the mall’s exit advertises the main attraction – “The One and Only Ivan, The Mighty Silverback!” Unfortunately Ivan and the other animals are not attracting visitors.

Besides showing off his gorilla moves for the visitors, Ivan has a talent – he draws. Mack sells Ivan’s drawings in the gift shop to help make some extra money. When the visitors and Mack are gone, Ivan spend his time with Stella, an older elephant, and Bob, a stray dog.

Because business is slow at the Big Top Mall, Mack adds Ruby, a baby elephant, to the show. Ruby was separated from her family and bonds with Stella. Stella gets sick and asks Ivan to promise to take care of Ruby and help Ruby escape the mall -aka prison. Ivan knows there are zoos out there that take care of animals instead of making them work and be away from others like them. Ivan, with the help of Julia, another artist, try to keep that promise to Stella.

This book is a good read for anyone. It a heart warming story of what true friends will do for each other.

Author Katherine Applegate based this story on a real gorilla named Ivan who now lives at Zoo Atlanta. Read about the real Ivan on the authors web site: