The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
My thoughts: As I read this book, I was reminded of my time watching a orangutan at the local zoo. She and I had a baby at roughly the same time. We both looked tired. While her baby was swinging above her, doing a KAWABUNGA drop onto her, my baby was climbing all over the stroller, the benches, and me. I decided the only way to fairly write this book, the author must have spent hours and hours and days sitting and writing down the actions of a Silverback Gorilla and adding an internal dialogue. It is a wonderful dialogue. Ivan is not at all ferocious. Ivan is simply thinking about how much he likes mango.
The book contains environmental overtones but it doesn't upstage Ivan or his story. Ivan doesn't mind living in his domain until Stella and Ruby bring his memories back from when he was in the jungle and how he was captured. All of the main characters have redeeming qualities. Even Mack. Mack owns the Little Big Top. Even though he seems harsh at times, he's really just sad.
The best part about the book is Ivan's voice. All of the characters bring something significant to the story. I loved them all. This book would appeal to readers of all ages.