Each year Little Shop of Stories, a bookstore in Decatur, has a city wide reading initiative called On the Same Page. Readers of all ages enjoy the same book and for several weeks, activities are planned for the schools and the community leading up to the grand finale which is a guest reading by the book’s author. The selected book for 2016 was The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
The One and Only Ivan was inspired by the true story of a silverback gorilla, who spent 27 years of his life alone in a cage in a circus themed mall in Washington. After Ivan was featured in a National Geographic special he was placed on permanent loan to Zoo Atlanta where he was finally able to be outside and live contently with other gorillas.
Grounded Teachers completing Refine your Teaching Step 3 earned their green bandanas with a service learning project by combining literature, music, art and yoga into a Family Event. Participants (adults and children 4+) were invited to connect with their inner Ivan, Julia, Stella, Ruby and Bob on the mat and then create their own inspired piece of art by drawing with their breath.
Almost 100 participants arrived at the Renfroe Middle School gym on a Sunday afternoon.
Parts of the book were read aloud as instrumentalists from Winnona Park Elementary played music to accompany poses that symbolized the characters in the story.
Ivan the Gorilla- An artist with patience
“I am Ivan. I am 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. Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part. I suppose you think gorillas can’t understand you. Of course, you also probably think we can’t walk upright. Try knuckle walking for an hour. You tell me: Which way is more fun?”
*Down dog – knuckle walk*
“I am mightier than any human, four hundred pounds of pure power. My body looks made for battle. My arms outstretched span taller than the tallest human. My family tree spreads wide as well.”
*Chest beat – tall mountain*
*Sa Ta Na Ma – I am what I am – I am friendly, I am brave, I am patient, I am real*
“My visitors are often surprised when they see the TV Mack put in my domain. They seem to find it odd, the sight of a gorilla staring at tiny humans in a box. Sometimes I wonder, though: Isn’t the way they stare at me, sitting my tiny box, just as strange?”
*See It From My Side *I See It From Your Side*
Stella the Elephant- Old and Wise
“Stella says she is sure I will see another real, live gorilla someday, and I believe her because she is even older than I am and has eyes like black stars and knows more than I will ever know. Stella’s trunk is a miracle. She can pick up a single peanut with elegant precision, tickle a passing mouse, tap the shoulder of a dozing keeper.” *Warrior 1 Up, Warrior 2 With Clarity, Triangle With Wisdom*
“A good zoo,” Stella says, “is a large domain. A wild cage. A safe place to be. It has room to roam and humans who don’t hurt.” She pauses, considering her words. “A good zoo is how humans make amends.” *Soapbox Freedom*
Bob the Stray Dog – Street smarts
“Bob is a stray, which means he does not have a permanent address. He is so speedy, so wily, that mall workers long ago gave up trying to catch him. Bob can sneak into cracks and crevices like a tracked rat. Bob is tiny, wiry, and fast, like a barking squirrel. His tail moves like weeds in the wind, spiraling, dancing. Bob’s tail makes me dizzy and confused. It has meaning within meanings like human words. “I am sad,” it says. “I am happy.” It says, “Beware! I may be tiny, but my teeth are sharp.”
*Dark Seed Light, Down Dog, No Whining, Flip Dog, Double Dog Dare*
Ruby the Baby Elephant – Young and playful and curious
“Stand back, everyone!” Mack yells. “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.” *Rock and Roll*
“Ruby pokes with annoyance at her roped foot. She takes a breath. “Ivan? Do I have to do the shows with Mack today?” *Calm Down*
“I think of Ruby’s endless curiosity, and of the questions she loved to ask. Have you ever danced with a tiger, Ivan? Will your fur turn blue? Why doesn’t that little boy have a tail.” *We Will Rock You*
Julia the young girl with a dream to free Ruby and Ivan
“Julia is ten years old. She has hair like black glass and a wide, half-moon smile. She and I have a lot in common. We are both great apes, and we are both artists. Julia’s drawings are wild with color and movement. She draws things that aren’t real: clouds that smile and cars that swim. She draws until her crayons break and her paper rips. Her pictures are like pieces of a dream.”
*Camel, Play with Fire, Laughter Hero, Do the Twist*
The afternoon ended with a Breathe and Draw art lesson.
We breathed back to back..
and drew with our breath..
“It was a day of collaboration, connection and celebration of a compassionate book.
Thank you Katherine Applegate for the story.
Thank you Little Shop of Stories for the collaboration.
Thank you Sarah Coleman for the Renfroe Middle Gym
Thank you Kelley Sue Hardin for capturing the radiance of the day.
and Thank you Grounded Teachers for Grounding and Elevating this day. Great to be on the same page with you all…”
~ Sat Nam….Cheryl Crawford
See this link for more information about On the Same Page.