Freak the Mighty By Rodman Philbrick
There’s Max, and there’s Freak, Max’s friend who moves into the house next door. Freak is brilliant. He is very interested in stuff about King Arthur, science, architecture... he teaches max about everything. Freak is only 2 feet tall due to a life-threatening disease, and by the way, Freak isn’t his real name. Max, only being in the 8th grade, is said to have grown an inch every day, and towers more than a head over every other kid. Max lives in his grandparent’s basement, which he calls the down under; he lives with them because his mom was murdered by his dad who is now in jail!
Not convinced yet?
The story is told in present and past and flows easily.
There’s really good contrast between characters.
Recommended for 7tth grade and up.
When I was 8 years old my older sister read most of Charlotte's Web to me. I say most, because so long after the fact I can't really remember if we finished it together. But I know it was a book we shared, because I can still hear her saying "Some pig," in her twelve year old's voice. It was a special book to me, and still is. Not only because we shared it, but because Charlotte's Web covers so many important themes to a child: belonging, injustice, friendship and love.
Now, as a grown-up, trying my best to keep up with the best that children's literature has to offer, I am pleased to say that Wilbur has found a rightful heir in Ivan the gorilla. Ivan, who is based on a real gorilla, has spent the last 27 years without any other gorillas around. As a silverback, this is very confusing. Ivan knows his job as a silverback is to protect his troop, but with no troop to protect, Ivan is robbed of a central part of his identity. However, when a baby elephant is introduced onto the scene, Ivan finds his purpose, with resonating results.
Simply and elegantly told, The One and Only Ivan is the kind of book that I hope families will share. Kids will like the humor, as well as the unique setting and cast of characters, while adults can relate to Ivan's longing to protect the baby elephant. Bringing together that wide range of ages is no easy feat, and Applegate (who is a Northern California local) does so with fabulous result. And while I could not help but compare Ivan to Charlotte's Web, the title is apt: there is One and Only Ivan.
--Maggie from the office