Category Archives: Animals

Staff Pick: Grin and Bear It

Staff Pick: Grin and Bear It

Grin and Bear It

Will stage fright prevent a very funny bear from becoming a stand-up comedian?

Have you ever wanted to do something, but were too afraid to try? Well Bear knows exactly what you are going through. Bear is a comedian who really wants to make his friends laugh. His jokes are hilarious, he does great in front of the mirror at home, and he is really cool. There is just one problem: Bear gets terrible stage fright. Can Bear get over his fears and make his own dreams come true? OR Will bear end up embarrassing himself in front of his friends? Find out by reading Grin and Bear It by Leo Landry.

Recommended by: Kamara McKinney – Spades Park Branch Library

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Staff Pick: Dog Diaries – Secrets of the WOOF Society

Staff Pick: Dog Diaries – Secrets of the WOOF Society

Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society

At the first annual meeting of WOOF–Words of Our Friends–assorted dogs preserve their heritage by sharing tales of canines throughout history, including Abu, who ruled all of Egypt except for one pesky cat, and Zippy, who simply must find the squeaky toy.

Have you ever noticed how many dog books are sad? I decided to sniff out one that wasn’t, and dug up a dog story about dogs telling stories. The WOOF Society (Words of our Friends) have gotten together to share stories about dogs AND prove that they more much more than “sit” and “stay.” They begin their first meeting by reciting their motto, “Woof! Woof! Woof!” Then dogs begin to tell stories of other dogs. Jack, whose person is an archaeologist, tells the story of Abu, the dog who was the king of Egypt. Einstein, who is very smart, explains why dog names are so important. Mimi just gives dog tips (to get table food without begging, sit beside the baby). I cannot promise that nothing sad happens, but the dogs are all OK! Woof! Woof! Woof!

Recommended By: Doriene Smither – Pike Branch

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Remembering Ivan the Gorilla

Remembering Ivan the Gorilla

The Newbery Medal book for this year, announced in January, was The One and Only Ivan…a story based on a real gorilla who used to live at Zoo Atlanta. Today at 3:30pm zookeepers at Zoo Atlanta will be presenting a webcast to remember Ivan, who died August 20, 2012. Ivan was a beloved zoo resident missed by many.

From Zoo Atlanta : “We’ll discuss the real Ivan, who called Zoo Atlanta home for 18 years. From the jungles of Africa to the shores of the Pacific Northwest to The Ford African Rain Forest at Zoo Atlanta, his life has become a symbol of the way animals shape our lives — and the power we have to shape theirs. We’ll be joined by our educator instructor Carvel Bennett and primate keeper Jodi Carrigan, who was Ivan’s close friend for 10 years.”

The One and Only Ivan

Ivan the gorilla lives at the Exit 8 Bigtop Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan lives in a small glass domain with nothing but a food bowl, a stuffed toy and a television…and the humans that come and press their faces to the glass and point and stare. The zoo owner sometimes gives Ivan a crayon or paint. Ivan likes to draw pictures.

I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.
It’s not as easy as it looks.
People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan. Mighty Silverback.
The names are mine, but they’re not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan. (pages 1-2)

Doesn’t that remind you of Harry Potter when he says to Hagrid in the Sorcerer’s Stone movie, “But I’m just…just Harry!”

Ivan does have a couple friends, an old elephant named Stella and a stray dog named Bob that sneaks into Ivan’s cage every night to sleep on his warm belly. The three of them get by. They don’t talk much about what could be better, they just deal with every day. When the Exit 8 Big Top owner realizes attendance is way down he buys a baby elephant, a terrified baby elephant named Ruby, to make more people want to visit.

We’ve got a new arrival. This is Ruby, folks. Six hundred pounds of fun to save our sorry butts. This gal is gonna sell us some tickets.” (page 69)

Ruby’s arrival makes Stella and Ivan see their situation in a different way. Stella, in particular, can’t stand the idea of Ruby growing up at the mall. While Ivan and Stella have grown old and gotten to the point where life at the mall is good enough, they don’t think life at the mall is good enough for Ruby. So, in the spirit of Charlotte’s Web, Ivan hatches a plan hoping to save Ella from a lonely life at the mall, a plan that just might save the others too. You’ll cry and cheer both. It’s cool to see Ivan get his Mighty back. He isn’t just Ivan. He’s Ivan the Mighty Silverback. Author: Katherine Applegate

Ivan’s story is based on a real gorilla that lived for 27 years in a mall zoo but now lives at Zoo Atlanta in a habitat made especially for gorillas. Ivan will turn 50 this year! You can read about him and the effort it took to move him to his current home.

Annnnd did you know our own Indianapolis Zoo plans a New Gorilla Exhibit to open in 2013?


If you like Ivan here are some more stories that imagine what life would be like from the animal’s point of view. We can never really know of course, but it IS interesting to imagine. You also might like to read about the gorilla Koko. Koko learned sign language, which makes you wonder if we CAN learn a little about what animals think. The last four books are about scientists who study gorillas in the wild or in captivity. Really, really fascinating. And I’m warnin’ ya…the animal stories will make you cry, just like Ivan. If you have a pet you’ll go hug it and think more about your responsibility and what it means to have an animal friend.
Charlotte's Web A Dog's Life Black Beauty Whittington
Koko Love Koko's Kittens Gorilla Doctors Dian Fossey
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Staff Picks: Step Inside! A Look Inside Animal Homes

Staff Picks: Step Inside! A Look Inside Animal Homes

Using rhyming text, explores the homes of various animals, including spiders, moles, warthogs, and tree frogs, and describes how the animals use these homes for protection or for hunting food. Author: Catherine Ham

Animals are awesome, but let’s face it; there are a bazillion animal books out there. Emilie, you ask, why should I read this one? (Let’s pretend you asked that.) This book is different. It’s about animal homes. Not only that, there are incredible pictures of the animals in their homes. Also, the book rhymes. Did you know the spittlebug (I didn’t even know there was a spittlebug) makes his house from his spit? It looks like bubble wrap. There are ants that build enormous nests high up in trees. Do you know what a warthog home looks like? You will if you read this book!

Recommended by: Emilie Lynn – East 38th Street Branch

More books about animals and their amazing homes:

A Strange Place to Call Home Home Sweet Web Even an Octopus Needs a Home Burrows, Nests and Lairs
Extreme Builders
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Staff Pick: The Secret of the Ginger Mice

Staff Pick: The Secret of the Ginger Mice

The Secret of the Ginger Mice

Alex, Alice and Alistair think they are just three ordinary mice, until Alistair mysteriously vanishes. Then Alex and Alice learn a secret about their family: a secret which means Alistair’s life is in danger – unless Alex and Alice can find him first. So begins a hair-raising journey. Author: Frances Watts

Alistair, with his ginger fur, might not look like Alex and Alice, but these mice triplets stick together.  When Alistair mysteriously disappears, his siblings are determined to find their brother and rescue him.  As the story alternates between the siblings’ journeys, they discover secrets about their parents and who they really are that could put them in harm’s way.  Their journey brings them into contact with a variety of characters as they stumble into a secret resistance movement.  Can Alistair, Alex, and Alice make wise decisions about who to trust?  And will they uncover the truth about ginger-furred mice?

Recommended by: Janet Spaulding, Selection

More Staff Picks

More stories about adventuring mice:
The Tale of Despereaux Redwall Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh Stuart Little
The Cricket in Times Square Tumtum & Nutmeg The Wind in the Willows
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