Reading As Writers: 2013 Newbery Medal Winner THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

San Antonio, TX

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Event Details

First of three special Reading As Writers meetings this summer!
Not Your Typical Book Club
Reading informs our writing. Reading with intent can push us to the next level of our craft. Our goal in this special series is to examine how three award-winning authors have brought their stories to life, and in doing so, learn how we may hone those same techniques.
Please read each book before its assigned meeting, then roll up your sleeves for a lively discussion of the craft techniques used by the author.
This month: 2013 Newbery Medal-winner The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate.

Discussion Starters
All who RSVP will receive these questions as a PDF.
Please mark examples in your text to share with the group!

How does Applegate use Ivan’s senses to bring the settings of the story to life for readers?

How does the author introduce Ivan’s desires? His conflicts/obstacles?
How have Ivan’s friendships shaped his character? How do they continue to shape it?
How has Ivan’s time in the Big Top Mall affected his gorilla-ness?
How does Ivan’s character change over the course of the story?

Voice / Dialogue
How does Ivan’s vocabulary reflect his being a gorilla? How does it reflect his being a captive of humans?
How does the author distinguish the voices of characters — Ivan, Mack, Bob, Stella, Ruby, Julia?
Although Ivan mentions sharing stories with the zoo gorillas (p. 288), once Ivan is at the zoo, the author doesn’t include any dialogue among the gorillas. How does this affect your reading of this part of the story?

How would you describe the plot of Ivan: its shape, its divisions, its important moments?

Applegate uses very short paragraphs and chapters. How does this affect the reading of the story? Does it reflect Ivan’s character and/or voice?

Ivan tells his own story. How might third-person narration have affected the story?

A few themes of the story include isolation, personal identity, and friendship. What other themes stood out to you? How early did the author introduce the themes? How did she carry them from scene to scene?