I'm going off topic here today and want to recommend a book. Adults can read it, older kids can read it, parents can read it to their kids---this was a book that I read and continue to ponder weeks later! In the middle I cried, the ending was life-affirming and wonderful. The title is The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and my words can't do it justice.
If you want to read a good review, go here to the NY Times.
Here's a synopsis from the book's website:
Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.
That fact that this author won the coveted Newberry Medal says it all---I wasn't the only person who loved it. Personally, I think our school needs multiple copies so the kids can read it together in a book club.
It's all there and more. It's a must read.
--There was in fact, a real Ivan. Although this is a fantasy book (similar to Charlotte's web, where the animals talk to each other and have distinct personalities), the real Ivan did exist in a cage for 27 years in a shopping mall. You can read about him here and here.
--The second cool thing is that the author, Katherine Applegate, volunteered for a while several years ago at my school in our EC classroom. She is a wonderful person, and a great author. Little did I know that she would become so famous!