Novel inspired by painting gorilla wins Newbery Award

“The One and Only Ivan,” a tale of a gorilla who makes a new life for himself after being moved from a tiny cage in a mall to a zoo, won the John Newbery Medal for the year’s outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

The book, written by Katherine Applegate, a prolific author of children’s books, was inspired by the real-life tale of a gorilla in Washington State named Ivan. After being kept in a cage at a mall for 27 years, he becomes a celebrity when he is moved to a zoo in Atlanta where he makes paintings and signs them with a thumbprint.

This is the first Newbery Award for Ms. Applegate, who has written numerous books, including the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter book series. With her husband, Michael Grant, she wrote “Animorphs,” which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.

The Newbery award, which is regarded both as the most prestigious honor in children’s literature and as a reliable booster of sales, was announced Monday by the American Library Association at its midwinter meeting in Seattle.

The association’s other top award, the Randolph Caldecott Medal, for the most distinguished picture book for children, was particularly competitive. The association named five finalists, more than usual, and presented the award to “This Is Not My Hat,” by Jon Kassen, a dark tale about a little fish who has stolen a hat and suffers for it.

This article, "," first appeared in The New York Tiimes.