When I read this was the Newberry winner for 2012, I grabbed it off my To-Be-Read shelf and dove in. The story is about Ivan, a gorilla in a "circus" of sorts in a run down mall. Ivan is there with a parrot and an older elephant as well as a stray dog. The animals aren't terribly well cared for by the mall owner, although the custodian and his daughter do what they can. In an effort to save the mall, the owner buys a young elephant to add to his animal collection, and eventually Ivan becomes the one to care for her, telling her stories about his life before the mall and creating art to draw attention to their plight.
I enjoyed the story (but I didn't love it like I thought I would), and I know my students will enjoy it as well. I could see this one making a great read-aloud in a classroom, too. This could lead to great discussion about human responsibility for the care of the animals in the world.
3.5 out of 5 stars
AR reading level of 3.6