The One and Only Ivan Review


You HAVE to read this book!

I tell my 3-5th grade students every year. You HAVE to read this book! It is the BEST book in our library, it won the Newbery Award and kids who have never liked reading chapter books before, LOVE this book.  I show them the book trailer I made, and then I watch all four copies fly off the shelf and the reserve slips stack up.

I did it again this year, and Thyna took the book home and then brought me this review!

The book that I read is called The One and Only Ivan. My favorite part was when Ivan was in a long time, but he got to go to a zoo. This book is about a mighty silverback, which is a type of gorilla. His name is Ivan. He was raised by a guy named Mack, until Mack decided for Ivan to go in a cage at a mall where Mack worked.

Ivan had friends like Stella the elephant and Bob the stray dog that came in the crack in the window. Ivan has been at the Big Top Mall for a very long time, but he is sad even if he does have friends. There is a guy name George and he works at the mall also. George has a daughter named Julia and she gives Ivan some paper and crayons so he can make art. Eventually Mack finds the paintings and sells them at the gift shop.

Then there is a new elephant named Ruby and she does shows at the mall. One time Stella asked Ivan to keep a promise. The promise was to get Ruby safe at a zoo. Lastly, Ivan got Ruby to a zoo. Ruby and Ivan were happy and Bob the dog lived with Julia happily.

Thank you Thyna for your awesome review! It sounds like you are a fan too! The other great news is that a picture book version will be published on October 7th. It’s called Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla It will be available for check out as soon as we get a copy!

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Katherine Applegate came to our school a couple years ago for a visit. You can read more here. This is the book trailer I show to my classes to advertise her unbelievably amazing book.

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Duke Book Trailer Debut

How much do you love your dog?

Are you brave enough to give him away?

 duke picm

I originally wrote this post in November 2013 after Kirby Larson’s book launch for Duke. Recently I had the chance to create a book trailer for her book, so I decided to update and repost the article. I took the majority of the photographs myself in Seattle. Using the PhotoStudio iPhone app, I artificially aged the photos to make them look old. I also used Creative Common photos, where people give permission for you to use the photo. I did obtain permission from the artist of one photograph and received another from Kirby herself. I wonder if you will know which picture is of Kirby’s dad?  Usually I make book trailers using Photostory3, Windows MovieMaker or Animoto, however, this time I decided to try out the iMovie app on my iPhone. There is a book trailer template available, and within an hour or so, I had the rough draft of my book trailer made. Really, anyone with a little patience, some photos and love for a book can make a book trailer! Here is the original post, with the book trailer at the end.


The poster in his classroom seems to be screaming at him. Are YOU doing all you can?  Hobie struggles inside. Is he really doing everything he can to help his dad? He’s saving all his dimes to buy war stamps. He’s helping his Uncle Tryg and trying to be the man of the house for his mom.

Is it enough? Hobie hears about the Dogs for Defense program where people with well trained dogs can donate them to help the war movement. Hobie has spent hours training Duke and the military could use him to sniff out mines or help patrol borders. It is important work and Duke would be a great defense dog.


From the moment Hobie says yes, and watches Duke leave, he regrets his decision. What if Duke doesn’t come home? What if his Dad doesn’t come home? Does Hobie have what is takes to be this brave? You will have to read Duke and find out!

Kirby had a book launch party at Third Place Books in the fall of 2013. She talked about her love of history, the research about Dogs for Defense and the backstory she used from her own family that developed into the book. You can also watch an interview with Kirby talking about her book.

Duke launch collage

Kirby is a serious dog lover and a portion of the proceeds went to Reading with Rover, a local reading organization where children read to dogs and practice their reading in a fun and non-stressful way. Along with some other Reading with Rover teams, Reese and I had the opportunity to attend the launch of Duke at Third Place Books.


If you would like to learn more, visit Kirby Larson’s website and find out about other books she has written. Update: April 2014 – Reese has now retired from  Reading with Rover. At almost 7, he is  considered an old dog in the Bernese Mountain Dog breed.  He really likes his naps and occasional walk around the block. The Duke launch was his last official outing and I’m thrilled it was to promote a book featuring a fabulous dog!

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Julie of the Wolves


Photo: Wikipedia Commons

What do you think about wolves?


Wolves have always fascinated me. I know they are predators and have legendary howls, but they seem like cuddly wild dogs to me. Earlier this year, we had an assembly where the presenter brought a wolf puppy. I was in heaven! Here was my chance to touch and see a wolf up close.

wolf pup1
This particular pup had been rescued, and was being taken care of by professional animal handlers. However, it was still young enough to be touched and cuddled by humans.

wolf pup2Photos by Mrs. Gabriel

I got a lifetime supply of wolf puppy kisses and hugs. It also sent me to the book shelves to re-read one of my favorite series – Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. Actually I listened to the series. I love to listen to audio books while I am driving to work and home each day. I haven’t found anyone who will read to me anymore, so this is the next best thing.


Julie of the Wolves is about a young Yupik girl in Alaska who is trying to find her way between the culture she has always known and the ways of modernization. In her village she is known as Miyax, but her friend in California calls her Julie. After her mother dies, and her father goes missing, she is forced to live with her Aunt Martha. Her aunt only wants to marry her off to Daniel, and soon Miyax realizes her only escape is on the tundra.  Without food or water, she befriends a pack of wolves who allow her to become part of her pack. Mijax struggles to find where she belongs – on the tundra with her wolves, or in town with people.

Julie of the Wolves is an American classic and won the Newbery Award in 1973. I love the realism the author uses to describe life among the wolves. It is based on real-life experiences and research she did when she went to Barrow, Alaska to conduct research for an article about wolves. When I read this novel, especially in the dead of winter, I want to trade places with Miyax, and crawl into the wolf den with her friends. It may help that we share the same first name.

In any case, whether your name is Julie or not, I hope you will pick up Julie of the Wolves and the two sequel novels and experience life among the wolves. It is available in print, audio, eBook formats in a library near you!

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For the Younger Readers


What have you been reading so far this summer?


Reese was doing some newspaper reading this morning. Apparently he didn’t like what he read, so now we have a shredded mess all over the living room floor! Nice! Well it’s Saturday and I have been doing some reading since school let out.After reading Destiny Rewritten, I decided to move to some new chapter books that younger readers would enjoy.


You can’t go wrong with any of Lunch Lady graphic novel series. This time a terrible technology villain invades the school and steals everyone’s gizmos and gadgets. Yikes! Will the Lunch Lady solve the dilemma?


Jennifer S. Holland has a new non-fiction series perfect for kids just starting to read chapter books. If you like animals, you will love these short stories about the friendships between some pretty unlikely animals.


Magic Tree House fans will like book #49 Stallion by Starlight. This time Merlin the Magician wants Jack and Annie to find the secret of greatness. What makes a person great? To find the answer they travel back in time to ancient Macedonia to meet Alexander the Great and his famed horse Bucephalus.

book 5


Newbery winning author Patricia MacLachlan’s new book is perfect for dog lovers. Zoe’s mother rescues Great Pyrenees dogs. “Pyrs”, as they are called for short, are large, yet gentle 140-150 pound, white fur dogs. When Phillip moves in next door, he becomes friends with one of the rescue puppies. Will the puppy help him speak again?


Any girl who loves the Fancy Nancy books by Jane O’Connor will adore her newest chapter book series. A little bit fancy, a little bit Nancy Drew, and a little bit mysterious fun, these books will entertain transitional picture book to chapter book readers.


Mystery fans will love the funny new mystery series by the author of the Lunch Lady series. The author Jarrett J. Krosocaka will be our featured guest author next year, so make sure you keep up with all of his latest books!


I hope these books will give you some ideas for the upcoming weeks! Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to San Antonio, Texas to attend the ISTE technology conference! I’ll be going to classes and finding out all sorts of different ideas to use in our library lessons in the fall!

Keep Reading! Mrs. Hembree


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The One and Only Katherine Applegate

Amazing, fabulous, wonderful, spectacular, superb! Those are only a few of the ways we could describe our visit with Katherine Applegate this week!

Katherine came with her daughter Julia, and HarperCollins editor, Anne Hoppe and gave us a presentation on her book The One and Only Ivan. Ivan is dedicated to Julia, and her name is also used for one of the main human characters in the book.

Katherine is the author, and co-author with NYT bestseller Michael Grant of over 150 books for children and young adults, including Animorphs, which has sold over 35 millions copies. In the library world, she is a ROCKSTAR, yet, a nicer, more humble author you could not meet.

In a fabulous presentation created by her 15 year old son Jake,Katherine led us through the story of Ivan, the “shopping mall gorilla,” who spent 27 years in the B & I shopping Mall in Tacoma, and the inspiration of her novel. After reading a newspaper article many years ago when Ivan’s future was being debated, Katherine learned about this silverback gorilla stuck inside a 14 x 14 cement cage.  She later saw a National Geographic documentary on urban gorillas that included Ivan’s history. “I couldn’t get this story out of my head,” she told us.

She told us she remembered Toni Morrison’s quote,

She did research through the years and even went to Tacoma to get more information. Yet, she knew his story would also have to be fictionalized. Stella, the older elephant and Bob, the dog didn’t really live with Ivan in real-life, and neither did Ruby, the baby elephant. These were the touches she added to his story to give it depth, poignancy and heroism.

Students also had a chance to ask Katherine questions where she let us know that her best advice for student writers is summed up in two words:

 what if ….

Put yourself in any situation, and ask yourself “what if” and you have the basis for a new story! It’s as simple as that! She also urged student writers to be proud of what they write. She spent many years as a ghost writer for some well known series like Sweet Valley High, or used pseudonyms before she took the plunge to write under her own name.


The culmination of the morning was lunch for eight lucky students, who spent an hour with Katherine, Anne and Julia talking about books, Ivan and her life as a writer.

We even had a special cake made for the occasion! I got the idea for this cake from Mr. Schu. You can visit his blog here.

Following lunch, Anne signed a book for each of the “Applegate Lunch Bunch” and had their picture taken with her.

Sadly, the morning came to an end and we waved Katherine, Julie and Anne goodbye! They we off to enjoy the day in Seattle and then return to Parkplace Books in Kirkland for another visit the following day with students at two other local schools.

If you live in the Seattle area, she will be at Elliott Bay books this afternoon, Wednesday, April 18th at 3pm doing another book signing!

We can’t thank you enough for visiting our school!  It was truly an honor and a day I will personally treasure close to my heart.

 Here is the special bulletin board we prepared especially for her visit.

 Anne Hoppe, editor for The One and Only Ivan visits with Katherine and Julia.

 Katherine with Mrs. Hembree and her husband. Mr. Hembree remembered visiting Ivan in Tacoma when he was a child.


Have you ever met an author in person before?

What is your “what if” story idea?

Do you have a special animal story?


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The One and Only Ivan


I never saw Ivan at the old, run-down shopping mall in Tacoma, but my husband did. He got sad thinking about Ivan, the silverback gorilla confined inside a dirty and cramped cage on show for whoever came to visit him. For 27 years he lived there and endured the humans who stared at him day after day, year after year. It was a dismal existance for a mighty silverback gorilla.

Ivan’s story began in 1962 when he was captured as an infant and sold to owners of a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington. He lived there for 27 years before the public pressure prompted his move first to the Woodland Park Zoo and then to the Atlanta Zoo. The Atlanta Zoo is home to the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas. Ivan is now 49 and thriving in his zoo home.

Katherine Applegate’s new novel, The One and Only Ivan was inspired by the true story of Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The novel is told through Ivan’s eyes and captures both the anguish and the heartening moments of friendship between him and his mall animal friends. It’s a book that will stick with you long after you turn the last page. It compelled me to create a book trailer, which I hope you will enjoy.



Have you ever heard of Ivan before?

Do you want to read this book now?

Do you like to visit animals at the zoo?

What’s your favorite zoo to visit?


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Did You Say Talking Chipmunks?

Enter  into the world of talking animals with Thelonious Chipmunk!  All the animals wonder….did humans really exist or are they just some kind of ancient legend?

Everyone tells Thelonious that humans aren’t real, but he believes he has proof they really did exist.  Join Thelonious on his adventure from the City of Ruins to Fog Mound to find out where the humans really went.

 The Fog Mound series by Susan Schade and Jon Buller are part graphic novel,  regular novel,  adventure,  fantasy  and science fiction!

Josa donated these books to our library and hopes you will join him on a Theolious Chipmunk adventure.  He says these books are good because “they are the type of book with writing and comics. They tell a good story about a chipmunk on an adventure. It’s just so cool to imagine that a chipmunk could go on this kind of adventure!”  You have to read them to find out more! Find them in our graphic novel section of the library!


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Gully’s Travels Student Review by Tina

gullyGully’s Travels by Tor Seidler

He had everything… a rich professor, an antique New York apartment, walks in Washington Square, fancy grooming every week, favorite, salmon-colored collar, everything he can brag about to his so called “friend”. What else could he wish for? Gulliver, a sacred Lhasa Apso, had a perfect life, until one summer, while he and his professor were relaxing in Paris, his professor asked a hairy-dog-allergic woman to MARRY him!! Gulliver now had the worst worries on his mind. Will his professor give him up? Where would he go? He had bigger troubles now then thinking about what flavor of food he wants.

This book is great! Gulliver goes through hard life lessons like feeling rejection and then getting over it to open his heart to the ones that truly love him. He travels all the way from Manhattan to Paris. Gulliver is quite an amazing dog. This adventure, not only the dog can take, but all the interested readers out there too. I hope many others will pick up this book and enjoy it as much as I did!

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Snowball Student Review by Diana

snowballSnowball by Ellen Miles (part of the Puppy Place series)

     This book is about a puppy that has no home. The family is the Peterson’s and they have a foster home for dogs and puppies. Mr. Peterson has a friend that works at a gas station. One day, Mr. Peterson got a call from his friend while the kids were at school.  When the children were walking home, their dad was so excited and happy. When they were driving he said that his friend found a puppy at the gas station. When they arrived, they found a white Westie puppy that was about 4 months old.  They name him Snowball. Will Snowball be a trouble maker or will he be good?  What will all the puppies futures hold?

      So far I like this book because it is about dogs and puppies and I like dogs and puppies.  This book is interesting because there are happy and sad parts. I hope you will read it!

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