Archive for January, 2012

The One and Only Ivan by Katharine Applegate is one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. And believe me, I may only be an eleven year old, but I’ve read a LOT of them

The One and Only Ivan had pretty much everything a good story needs—emotion and hopefulness and heartbreak. The author had me humming HOME (by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes) halfway through the book.

Ivan is based on a true story about a gorilla that really lived in an abusive shopping center slash zoo. He made many friends there, including a stray dog and an old elephant named Stella. The janitor and his daughter were Ivan’s buddies/comrades/amigos as well.  In spite of terrible conditions and cramped quarter, Ivan and his friends managed to have an interesting life.

Did I mention Ivan was an artistic gorilla? From birth, in the jungle, Ivan painted with dirt and mud. In the shopping center, he learned to use art supplies to paint and draw amazing, expressive pictures.

Eventually, a new baby elephant comes into Ivan’s life. Just like Ivan, Ruby had been kidnapped and torn from her family. Hunters killed both their parents. Ivan had also lost his own sister. Before Stella to elephant died, Ivan made a promise to take care of Ruby. He is determined to give Ruby a better future. He must find a way to get her (and the rest of his animal friends) out of the mall and into a real zoo, the kind of place where humans make amends for their cruel treatment of animals.

Ivan decides to use his artistic abilities to reach his goal…but you’ll have to read the rest to find out if he succeeds.

All in all, I think this was an absolutely extraordinary verse novel. I highly recommend you pick it up. I’m thankful the nice people at HarperCollins gave my mom and I a review copy!

Hungry for more?

Try my mom’s recipe for Banana Pudding. Yummo.


3 reg. sized boxes instant vanilla pudding mix

5 cups milk

8 ounces sour cream (yeah, you read that right)

12 ounces Cool Whip

2 boxes vanilla wafers

10 bananas

In a large bowl, blend pudding mix with milk (use a wire whisk). Add sour cream and half the cool whip. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl or dish, layer in the following order: cookies, bananas and pudding mixture. Top with remaining cool whip.


So…exciting things are happening. Amazing, wonderful things! I blogged about 2012 being The Year of Impossible Things, and suddenly, some things are starting to look…well, pretty darn possible.

But. Here’s the deal.

Here be dragons.

Okay, maybe there’s just one dragon. Here be one big, scaly, seemingly invincible, fire-breathing dragon who wants to dine on roast girl with a side of scorched dreams. I stare down this ugly beast almost every day. It taunts me, warns me to turn back, demands my immediate and unconditional surrender.

I’ve learned it’s no use bargaining with this particular dragon. Without mercy, it devours peace offerings, always eating up more of my time and resolve. I can’t kill it, either. I’ve slayed it a thousand times, only to see it slink back, alive and whole again. The only thing I can do is face the mirror and confront the monster hiding in my reflection. Often, I can intimidate the treacherous brute, temporarily banishing it out of sight. There’s a magic chant that usually works:  Go away, dragon. I’m writing and I don’t have time for you today.

Hungry for more? Try this recipe for Kitchen Sink Brownies, which appease all but the fiercest creatures.