Friday, October 26, 2007

Review: When Gorilla Goes Walking

by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Shane Evans. Orchard Books, 2007. We just got this book into our library and it is a charmer. The story is told in poetry, of a cat named Gorilla and two girl friends each named Cecilia. One Cecilia has three brothers and the other (the story's narrator) has none. She begs her mother for a pet and gets a cat; not just any cat but a fierce, independent, clever, "rain-cloud gray" cool cat named Gorilla.

Cecilia has to learn the rules of playing ball with Gorilla, but "housebreaking was a snap." She buys him a collar decorated with the colors of the African flag (red, green and black) and takes him walking around the neighborhood. Gorilla loves it, the neighbors laugh. The best part is how well Gorilla takes care of Cecilia when she is sick. She checks her forehead, listens to her heart and curls up peacefully to be her "feline nurse".

Each page of the book has a lovely, clever painting of Cecilia and Gorilla and a poem telling us about their lives together. The simple drawings are full of dramatic expression. My favorite:

Games

On my birthday I had
a big party
with cheesecake
and strawberry tea.
We played Pin-the-Tail
on
Gorilla, and learned
what a rocket
a kitty can be.

In the illustration Gorilla has a fierce scowl and wide green eyes. Cecilia is blindfolded, dreds joyfully askew under her party hat, and arms stretched toward Gorilla with a tail pin. This book is funny and touching. Every child who loves animals and has a pet, or wishes for a pet will adore this book.

No one has nominated this book for a Cybil yet! Who can step up?

Today's Friday Poetry Round up is over at Literary Safari

13 comments:

Kelly Fineman said...

I sure hope SOMEONE nominates it. And a few others worthy of mention haven't been mentioned yet, either. Sigh.

Charlotte said...

I haven't used up my picture book or my poetry nomination -- which would this be???? I haven't read this book yet, but I shall look for it.

Cloudscome said...

I think it would be a poetry nomination. Anyone disagree?

I have used my poetry and my picture book slots, but I haven't chosen a fiction book or some of the other categories. It would be great if everyone started more discussion about what HASN'T been mentioned yet, don't you all think? Give us some suggestions of what you wish you could throw in if you've used your votes!

jama said...

Thanks for the tip on this book. Will have to look for it.

TadMack said...

GREAT idea!
I don't feel like I know enough about poetry to nominate any book, but I really love Nikki Grimes, and the idea of a cat named Gorilla tickles me. (I want to name a cat Gosling.)

Sara said...

A cat named Gorilla? Who can resist? I've seen a few that really are that big!

Sara said...

Oh, and your poem over at Laura Salas today: I love it. Are you going to post it here, too?

I'll be watching to see what the single men I know do with envelopes...

HipWriterMama said...

Nikki Grimes is great. I haven't seen this book yet. Thanks for the recommendation.

Dewey said...

This book sounds adorable. Is it that the Cecilia with brothers is the narrator Cecilia's imaginary friend? The Cecilia she wants to be? Or is it another real little girl?

laura salas said...

Love the kitty rocket!

Just put this on reserve at the library. Thanks for the recommendation. I didn't realize this was a poetry collection/cycle. I thought it was prose. Looking forward to reading it.

katied said...

I just bought this yesterday...so glad someone else loves it as much as I do. Can't wait to share it with my first graders!

Cloudscome said...

Dewey that is a great question. I should have explained it better because it is an underlying theme in the book. There are two Cecilias; one is white and one is Black. They are best friends and shown together in the beginning of the book. The white Cecilia is the one with the brothers. The Black Cecilia is the one who gets the cat named Gorilla, and the center of the story is about her getting to know her pet. She is developing a relationship with him, coming to respect his ways, admire his personality and receive the gifts of his love. At the end of the book her girl friend Cecilia moves away. Gorilla's friendship comforts our Cecilia in her lonliness. The undercurrent of how friendships wax and wane, build and change is a theme that is worthy of deeper reflextion.

Cloudscome said...

And Sara, thanks for the praise of that poem I put in the comments at Laura Salas for Friday Poetry. I actually don't like it much myself; I dashed it off in 5 minutes and it is not genuine.