Monday, April 9, 2012

Slice of Life - The One and Only Ivan

 Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers

I meant to get a picture of my bed at 7:30 tonight but failed so you’ll have to imagine. At that time I called the boys up, it was time to read our family read aloud, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Liam groaned the whole way up, he wanted to continue playing. Luke was ready to read. Interestingly once they reached my bed Liam grabbed my laptop and asked if he could “see” Ivan. We’ve discussed that the story is based on the real story of Ivan the gorilla that is currently at the Atlanta Zoo. We found a few videos of Ivan. Liam wanted him to turn around so we could see his silverback.

Then Luke asked how old Ivan was, we looked up some information on the lifespan of a gorilla. We learned that they can live to about fifty years in captivity. Ivan was born in 1964 and is forty-eight. Both boys immediately began worrying about Ivan. How much longer will he live? We hope awhile. There conversation then turned to the lifespan of our dog, Bally, who, I fear, is in the winter of her life. To get them off the topic we planned out our summer vacation, when we’d visit Ivan on the way back from a trip to South Carolina, where else we’d travel to in Atlanta, and so on. 

Finally, we curled up in the bed. I get positioned in the middle, Liam on the left, Luke on the right. Blankets piled high we summarized what we read last time. We had just finished a very sad part and had to rehash why that was necessary in the book. Reading tonight we marveled at how the young elephant, Ruby, has a magical effect on Ivan, she’s able to get him to remember. We made predictions about what would happen next. And after thirty minutes, I told them we needed to stop. Both boys begged for a few more pages but it was Liam’s bedtime. (And it’s always good to keep them wanting more.)

This has been an incredible reading year for me. I’ve read four of my favorite books in the last few years, and interestingly they are at a variety of levels. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach was an incredible book for adults (a 2011 release). The other three books are all from 2012 and if they are any indication of the books to come this year, I count my blessings. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is for Young Adults. Wonder by RJ Palacio and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate are both for middle grades. These three books are seriously up in the top best books I have EVER read. If you have missed any, please go read them now. 

I am grateful to be reread IVAN with my sons and having wonderful discussions with them about it. I cannot wait to buy them their own stuffed animal IVAN and take them to the Atlanta Zoo this summer. I think this is a reading experience they will not soon forget. 


  1. Guess this is still another book I must read. You get to me every time, Katherine. I love your stories about reading to your boys. And I've heard so much about Ivan that it's time to pay some attention. Thank you!

  2. Teacher.Mother.ReaderApril 9, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    Oh, your post here just got me all goosebumpy. I am reading The One and Only, Ivan right now. So good. I know this book will be a reread and reread with my students and with my own son when we is old enough. Thanks for putting a great mental image in my head, sharing books with your children is the best, isn't it?

  3. Oh, what a beautiful picture your words painted! I miss those snuggle-up-and-read-together days! Today I wrote about my love for Wonder. I couldn't agree with you more for it is definitely on my top 10 list of all time favorites. The funny thing is I have The One and Only Ivan on my Nook waiting for me. Can't wait to read it! Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Off to look this book up on Amazon!

  5. I need to get this book. But I have such a huge pile of books I have already purchased that I haven't read yet.. and I'm doing a "reread" focus this month.... but I WILL read this book!

  6. I could just picture all of you enjoying this book together. What struck me however, was the way you so naturally wondered, researched, and discovered information beyond the story with your laptop handy. That's a part of bedtime reading I didn't experience with my kids (I would have had to drag the Apple IIC to bed. Feeling Interesting!

  7. Though your picture would have been good, the picture in my head created by your words is pretty good as well. I love that you are sharing Ivan with your boys, and they are invested in worrying about how long Ivan will be with us. Such a special thing.

  8. How great that you have family reading time, piled in your bed. Your discussions sound great! I can't wait to read this book!

  9. What a joyful peek into a special time. Thanks for sharing! Thanks for the book recommendations, too.


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