Ever read a story written by a gorilla?
Katherine Applegate's novel The One and Only Ivan will get you as close as possible to the real thing. Applegate (co-author of the Animorph series) has crafted a heartfelt, often humorous tale, told from the perspective of Ivan, a silverback gorilla on display at a mall.
Ivan has come to terms with his existence inside a cage in a shopping mall, with no other gorillas in sight, and only an elephant, a stray dog, and a young girl as friends. But when he sees the sadness of the newest "exhibit" brought to the Big Top Mall, Ivan sets out to make life better for Ruby the elephant, and for the other animals he knows, including himself.
This book beautifully captures difficult emotions through simple language, and makes readers feel as if they really are hearing the thoughts of an intelligent and sensitive gorilla.
Ivan's narration underscores both the cruelty and the compassion of which humans are capable, while also entertaining readers with his innocent observations about the world.
I highly recommend this novel for animal lovers in middle school, especially 5th and 6th graders.