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.
Previous winners of this signal honor include Hugh Lofting, Lois Lenski, Joseph Krumgold, and Madeleine L’Engle. The list of winners is a pantheon of children’s literature.
Not to diminish her wonderful achievement, much deserved, but I consider this tremendous award her second greatest accomplishment.
Ms. Applegate has been married for many years to co-author and fellow children’s and young adult author Michael Grant.