How are you doing, readers?
I’ve read one of my three titles, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. It was a lovely, quick read told in the voice of a gorilla. Yes, you heard that correctly. Author Katherine Applegate was inspired to write IVAN after learning about a gorilla who for three decades lived in a tiny cage at a mall. Now the real Ivan lives at the Atlanta Zoo (Katherine has created a website for those interested in finding out more about this remarkable fellow).
I’d heard great things about this book before beginning. It was included on the Winter 2012 Kids’ Indie Next List as well as Amazon’s Best Books of the Month for Kids (January 2012). IVAN is making waves as a contender for the 2013 Newbery Medal.
But is it a verse novel?
I have to say no. While it is written with a close first-person point of view (which is a technique often used with novels in verse) and the chapters — if you can call them that — aren’t conventional, I don’t think what Katherine has created qualifies as verse. Much of the story is poetic and deeply introspective. It is clear she’s written verse before (think of her well-received HOME OF THE BRAVE). But I don’t think this book is poetry.
And you know what? I also don’t think it matters.
What Katherine has done is to first and foremost write in a style that is most true for her character and his situation. What she’s created works. And as for genre, who cares?
Still, I’m counting this as one of my three titles for the Verse Novel Read Along. I figure reading challenges are more about experiencing books than getting things “right”.
Here’s what Holly, a fellow reader, has to say about the book:
What’s amazing about the writing is that it’s so simple and sparse, but incredibly poignant, and in parts, funny. The story is a cross between Water for Elephants and Charlotte’s Web – it captures the complicated relationship between people and animals without being sappy or didactic.
Those of you reading verse novels this month, what have you read so far?