Author: Markus Zusak
Summary (From Goodreads): Meet Ed Kennedy—underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That’s when the first Ace arrives. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. . . .
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?
Winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love.
Flash Review: I’ve been wanting to read I Am the Messenger for a while, but it hasn’t made it very far in my TBR pile until I assigned my Sophomore Seminar students to read Printz novels over the summer. I know a couple of them chose it for their summer reading, and I’m sure a few others did as well, so I felt a little more obligated to read it this summer. I’m glad I did. I couldn’t finish Markus Zusak’s other book, The Book Thief, so I was wary when I started this one. The writing style and language took some time to adjust to, especially the Australian slang and terms. Once I got into the flow of the book I didn’t want to put it down. I really like Ed. He’s completely ordinary and really doesn’t have anything going for him. I was almost surprised he accepted the challenge of the cards, but he does and it’s wonderful to watch. The more Ed focuses on the cards and his missions, the more dynamic he becomes. It’s no surprise to me that I Am the Messenger was a Printz finalist; it’s a wonderful, beautiful book.
Author: Katherine Applegate
Source: Borrowed from the library
Summary (From Goodreads): Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.
Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.
Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
Flash Review: Have some tissues handy when you read The One and Only Ivan because it will most likely make you cry. I did. I love that Katherine Applegate from this story from Ivan’s point of view; I don’t think it could have been written any other way. My heart was breaking within the first pages of this book. Ivan hasn’t been around any other apes since he was taken away as a baby. His narrative of this made me teary. He’s not what the humans who come to see him think he is; he’s a gentle soul. Ivan’s an artist. Every time he described his drawings I thought about apes in the zoo and wondered if they think in a similar way. I know that Applegate wrote this and gave Ivan human-like thoughts for the sake of the story, but it still makes me wonder. I’ve never liked the circus and after reading this I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never go to one again. Ivan’s cage/domain/life is tragic and sad, but there’s hope woven into the story. Ivan, the other animals, and the reader may not always feel it, but it’s there on every page. The One and Only Ivan is a feel-good book that I hope you’ll read. I’m really considering reading this to my sophomores and hoping they’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
As always, thank you for the Flash Reviews idea, GreenBeanTeenQueen!