Today we watched a short film called "The Dam Keeper" and did a comparative analysis of plot and theme with this film and the novel “The One and Only Ivan”.
Can you make some deeper comparisons and go beyond Ivan is like Pig and Ruby is like Fox. How are the characters similar? How is the relationship between Pig and Fox similar to the relationship between Ivan and Ruby? How are they different?
Think: How does the introduction of a new character in both stories (Fox/Ruby) cause the main character (Pig/Ivan) to change? How does this relationship affect the outcome of the story?
How is the conflict of character vs. society evident in both stories?
Dig Deeper: Quote taken from The Dam Keeper
“Dad had always said the job of a dam keeper is to keep the darkness away.
But he never told me what to do when it surrounds you.
His mask protected me from the cloud, but nothing I had, protected me from the people. ”
How does this quote also apply to Ivan? Does he wear a “mask” as well? Perhaps in a more symbolic rather than a literal sense of the word?
Respond: How are the themes of loneliness, bullying, isolation and friendship similar in these two stories. Do the authors’ have similar messages?
Separating Fact from Fiction: Make a 2-column notes chart for fiction/reality and add to it as we are reading the book when you notice details that are based on the real Ivan or something that was made up to enhance the story in some way. When you are finished with your notes, come back to this page and respond to this post: Compare the real Ivan to The One and Only Ivan.
From The One and Only Ivan, p.142-145
"Mack grew sullen, and I grew bigger. I became what I was meant to be, too large for chairs, too strong for hugs, too big for human life.
I tried to stay calm, to move with dignity. I did my best to eat daintily. But human ways are hard to learn, especially when you're not human.
When I saw my domain, I was thrilled, and who wouldn't have been? It had no furniture to break. No glasses to smash. No toilets to drop Mack's keys in.
It even had a tire swing.
I was relieved to have my own place.
Somehow, I didn't realize I'd be here quite so long.
Now I drink Pepsi, eat old apples, watch reruns on TV.
But many days I forget what I am supposed to be. Am I a human? Am I a gorilla?
Humans have so many words, more than they truly need.
Still, they have no name for what I am."
Ivan seems to be having an identity crisis, or a feeling of unhappiness and confusion caused by not being sure about what type of person you really are or what the true purpose of your life is. How might Ivan's unnatural living arrangements have created this confusion?
The Real Ivan
A class set up a google hangout with the people at zoo Atlanta, who were Ivan's caretakers for the later part of his life. Watch this interview to get to know the real gorilla from The One and Only Ivan.
I am also sharing with you my notes that I took during the "hangout". Please feel free to add to my notes in the comment section after you watch the video and notice information that I have missed.
Read more about the real Ivan: Meet 'Ivan': The Gorilla Who Lived In A Shopping Mall
from The One and Only Ivan p. 202-203
"It’s time to show my work.
The mall is silent, except for Thelma the macaw, who is practicing her new phrase: 'Uh-Oh!'
Julia is finishing her homework. George is sweeping outside. Mack has gone home for the night.
I grab Not-Tag and carefully pull out the folded papers. So many paintings! Page after page. Piece after piece of my giant puzzle.
I pound on my glass and Julia glances over.
Fingers trembling. I hold up one of my paintings. It’s brown and green, a corner piece.
I display another picture, and then another and another and another, each one a tiny part of the whole.
Julia looks confused. 'But...what is it?' she asks. She shrugs. 'It doesn’t matter. It’s pretty just as it is.'
'Uh-oh,' says Thelma.
No, I think. No.
It does matter."
I want you to do an activity so that you can understand just how difficult it would be for Julia to understand Ivan’s message.
First you will paint a picture. Don’t get too attached to your painting, because I am going to cut it up into a bunch of pieces.
After your picture has dried, I am going to cut it up and put it in a bag. You will each take a bag containing “puzzle” pieces that are not yours, then you will try to put the pieces together and figure out what someone else was trying to show you. As difficult as this is, imagine how much harder this would have been for Julia to figure out-not knowing that she was being given pictures that were part of a whole that needed to be put together.
After completing the activity write about what it was like trying to put the pieces together. Include any thoughts that you might have on how Ivan’s plan could have been different to make it easier for Julia to figure out what he was trying to tell her. Do you think she will be able to figure it out?
Do you think zoos are good or bad? Read the following articles from Newsela on the topic of zoos:
Now read some responses, both for and against zoos, to the question "Are Zoos Good or Bad on Debate.org:
With wild habitats disappearing worldwide, what role (if any) should zoos have in the conservation of endangered species, research, and education?
Weigh in on the topic, either for or against zoos, citing evidence from one or more of these sources to support your opinion.
I have posted a stop motion animation video made by the creators of "Wallace and Grommit" and it is called "Creature Comforts". Please click on the ED TED button to watch this video and join the discussion. I think the creators of this video may have been influenced by the story of the real Ivan because this character has a lot of similarities to Ivan, even down to the tally marks on the wall.
Read: Stanford students ease life in the zoo
Through a unique experience at San Francisco Zoo, Stanford students learn how to apply principles of animal behavior to design environmental enrichments that benefit both the animals and the complex mission of a zoo.
Discussion: Is mental stimulation through environmental enrichment equally important as nutrition and veterinary care? Why or why not?
Today I read a book called "Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship". It is the story of a baby hippo, Owen, that is caught in a tsunami and becomes stranded at sea. He loses his mother and the rest of his pod in the tsunami. He is rescued by humans and relocated to a shared domain with a giant tortoise, Mzee, who becomes his best friend. It is a true story of the most unlikely friendship.
Watch the documentary version of the Owen and Mzee story here.
There are so many similarities between Owen and Mzee & Ivan and Ruby that go beyond the obvious (their remarkable friendship). For example, Owen was saved by humans when he became stranded and Ruby was saved by humans when she fell in the village well. According to the documentary, Owen never really trusts the humans, while Ruby seems to be very comfortable with them, even after her bad experiences in the circus. What comparisons can you make between the two stories?
From The One and Only Ivan, p. 161
"Every so often, I glance over at the empty ring. The claw stick glints in the moonlight.
'Stop! No!' Ruby's frantic cries startle me.
'Ruby,' I call, 'you're having a bad dream. You're okay. You're safe.'
'Where's Stella?' she asks, gulping at air. Before I can answer, she says, 'Never mind, I remember now.'
'Go back to sleep, Ruby,' I say. 'You've had a hard day.'
'I can't go back to sleep,' she says. 'I'm afraid I'll have the same dream. There was a sharp stick and it hurt...'"
This made me think about whether or not animals have dreams. Do you think animals dream? If so, what have you observed before that makes you think that they do dream. I also wonder what animals dream about. Do frogs dream about falling off of their lily pads and catching flies? Do they have realistic dreams, or fantastical dreams, or both? Do they day dream?
"What Do Animals Dream About?" This article may be a difficult read because there's a lot of technical language, but if you skim through it you might be able to get a piece or two of information from it.
I am a big, BIG fan of cute animal videos. Of course I'm going to use this opportunity to include a video compilation of doggies and their dreams.
Ms. Marshall's blog for The One and Only Ivan. This will be our first novel unit this year, as well as an introduction to blogging as a form of written response to reading.