Book review: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Applegate IvanApplegate, Katherine. Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. Ill. G. Brian Karas. Clarion. 2014. $17.99. unp. 978-0-544-25230-1. Ages 5-8:

In 1962, poachers took six-month-old Ivan from his home in central Africa to Tacoma where he lived with a human family for five years. Growing too large for that environment, the silverback gorilla spent the next 27 years in a 14×14 foot steel and cement room at the B&J Circus Store. Protests against this cruelty led to his move to Zoo Atlanta in 1994 where he gradually acclimated to life with other gorillas. He lived for another 18 years there before he died in 2012 at the age of 50. Pencil-line drawings with washes of pastel show Ivan’s gentle nature, highlighting his happiness during the first few years and later experiences, glossing over most of the 27 years of isolation. The book finishes with more facts, websites, a few photos of Ivan, and a reproduction of one of his charcoal and watercolor artworks. P8Q8 December 2014 review by Nel Ward.

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