March 15, 2012

Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Published by Harper Collins January 2012


Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all. 

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line. 

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better. 


Destined to be a classic, The One and Only Ivan had me on the first page. "I am Ivan, I am a Gorilla. It's not as easy as it looks." 
Ivan is a Silverback Gorilla, but instead of being the protector of his family in the wild, he's behind glass in a mall. Soft hearted, intelligent, he finds friendship and companionship in the other animals at the mall. 
Lovely text, and illustrations help us glimpse into Ivan's life, his fears, his hopes and what he misses about his old ways. When Ruby arrives he strives to make a better life for her.  
This story is for everyone. Adults and kids. Ivan is captivating and reminds us that all life is to be valued not just human life. It's a perfect read for middle grades or a read aloud to share with a younger group. Highly recommended.

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