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Archive for May, 2011

Gorilla

I love finding new-to-me books to share with my kinders, but not every one is special or catches their interest.

Cue Gorilla by Anthony Browne, originally published in 1983. It was republished in 2002, and I was lucky enough to find a copy a few weeks ago–about the time I was searching for new Mother’s Day and Father’s Day books to augment my collection. (Yes, I found one of each. Imagine, they’re by Anthony Browne, too.)

The illustrations are unique and intriguing, while a number possess a poignancy that is astonishing. The storyline caught my kids the second I read the father was too busy and too tired to take her to the zoo. The room quieted and all eyes were pinned on the book and listening. Every single child could empathize.

Hannah, you see, loves gorillas. She draws them, reads about them, and is desperate to see a real one. But Dad is simply too overwhelmed by work to find the time to take her.

Hannah’s birthday arrives and all she wants is a gorilla.

So imagine her disappointment when she wakes in the middle of the night to find a box at the foot of her bed that contains a small stuffed gorilla. She tosses it into the corner, and magically that gorilla grows and becomes real.

Now she’s a little nervous. But they make friends, snacks ensue, and then they’re off on an adventure that involves the zoo and the gorillas there.

But their journey is not the only magic in this tale because the other half of Dad’s gift is that precious trip to the zoo.

A happy ending, and all the tension my class felt for Hannah’s dilemma resolved on the last page. The journey with the gorilla father-figure was amusing, and the illustrations (gorilla Superman, gorilla Whistler’s Mother) while surreal and subtle, weren’t quite enough to give it an ending that would satisfy.

Dad’s change of heart was.

This is definitely a don’t miss book. Although there is sadness in the tale, it’s not a sadness that children can’t understand or identify with. Our children are strong enough to hear a tale about another’s hurt and anxiety, and Gorilla provides them with a fear that positively resolved.

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