PPBF: One Gorilla

I had a super night last night as a delivery penguin
for our fundraiser with Papa John's Pizza and our PTO.

It's a toss up whether I had more fun dancing with my deliveries
or carrying our character message out into the community!

This 2nd grader's pizza page perfectly parallels today's PPBF:
A good deed here, a small kindness there
may be all that it takes.

Title: One Gorilla
Author: Joy Dey
Illustrator: Nikki Johnson
Publisher: SWAK (SitWithAKid)
Date: September 30, 2014
Suitable for: K-3rd
Themes: behavior, kindness, self-control
Brief synopsis: The jungle is a wild and crazy, dangerous place to be. Will the Gorilla be the one to change all that?
Opening pages: It's a jungle out there! Prowling, savage, tooth and claw, the jungle crouches and glares.


*Read Heidi's review at Blue Star Visions {here}.
*SWAK book site for free activity download links {here}.
*Make a list of onomatopoeia words.
*Find examples of personification.
*Look for the 21 colored words hidden in the text and have learners find the words in the One Gorilla Word Search.

*Make a list as words are found; note how the words change from negative to positive as the story progresses.
*Have students research synonyms and antonyms for each word.
*Find and re-read this turning-point page:

Discuss what it means to Be The Gorilla.

Why I like this book: I'm usually more about the story line than the illustrations, but I am reeled in, hook, line and sinker by the total package in this one tropical treasure. The eye-catching watercolors that bring to life a mean and hostile jungle complement the text and soften and change with the one decision by one gorilla to be the difference and turn chaos into compassion. 

Every day, we have a choice to be kind or unkind.
So it is in the jungle.
There's taunting and teasing and trouble.
Lots of trouble.
And there laughing at, not with,
in this hard-knocks jungle.
When the gorilla comes along, he gets to choose
whether to leave the upside-down turtle to fend for himself
or befriend him and bring compassion to his community.

Besides the activities suggested above, I could see asking students to draw parallels between what they see in the book's jungle and what they experience in their everyday lives. Maybe they know a leopard, a parrot, an anteater, an ape. Who is the Gorilla in their jungle? Is it easy or hard to be the Gorilla? Ask what it took to soften those harsh, savage behaviors. Encourage them to talk about a kindness that they've shared when things seemed wild and out of control.

Finally, the publisher is SWAK - Sit With A Kid.
When I saw SWAK, I immediately thought it might mean
Sealed With A Kindness.
What creative names could students come up with if they were going to market a product having to do with kindness? Or what slogan or motto would they use to campaign for kindness?

What a wonderful way to wrap up Character Counts! Week.
How will you keep our character message alive
once our week-long celebration comes to a close?

For more PPBF picks, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. Wonderful review, Barbara! This book sounds amazing.

  2. I LOVE your selection. Actually, you and I have similar themes in our selections. It's all about heart and kindness, seeing a problem and finding a solution. One gorilla turning the jungle from chaos into compassion. One child seeing an injustice and creating change. Have to read One Gorilla.

  3. An interesting publisher and book! And you make a great penguin, Barbara!

    1. The penguin costume is a blast! And I haven't ever heard of SWAK before but this author/illustrator duo is dynamic!

  4. What a cool cover!

    1. Oh, Julie - the illustrations are top-notch! So colorful and engaging.

  5. Ha ha ha. Be the gorilla. Love it. Of course, I'd rather be a rhino . . .

    1. Thanks, Joanne, for stopping by. Your reflections about the rhino make me think of another activity idea, to write about which jungle animal you'd rather be an why.

  6. I love a good gorilla story! And you look great as a penguin!

    1. Hi Rhythm - I knew you'd like this one! Thanks for the compliment.

  7. It's amazing to see all the projects you came up with for this book. . .thanks for sharing!

  8. Great choice Barbara. And I'd love you to turn up delivering pizza in that costume..haha.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!