Virgie's Staff Pick (February 2013): ATTENTION! This has just been named the 2013 Newbery Award Winner for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature!
This touching book, based on a true story, is told through the voice of Ivan, a silverback gorilla. I just loved every character—both animal and human; Ivan the artistic gorilla, Stella the stoic mother elephant, Bob the tough on the outside but not so tough on the inside dog, and of course Ruby the baby elephant who just wants to be loved. And the humans: George the sympathetic caretaker and his daughter Julie, a bit like Fern in Charlotte’s web because she can almost understand Ivan—or at least understand his art.
The book makes the reader both sad and happy at the same time and has a fantastic ending. It teaches compassion towards animals in the same way that Wilbur did in Charlotte’s web.