Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: The One and Only Ivan

I don't read many middle grade books, but when my coworker handed me a copy of The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and showed me the first few pages, I fell in love. Specifically, these few lines grabbed me: "People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback. The names are mine, but they're not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan. Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part." I mean, how could you not love Ivan?!

The book is narrated by Ivan himself, and he describes the shopping mall (yes, shopping mall) where he lives and the other animals around him in just-awkward-enough English that you could believe these were the thoughts of our great ape cousin. His closest friends are Stella the elephant and Bob the dog. When a new elephant named Ruby shows up, he becomes very protective of her and wants to see the humans do right by her. From my adult perspective, the story was a bit contrived (even though much of it is true). However, for kids, it offers a unique perspective onto the concept that humans often mistreat their charges.

Buy The One and Only Ivan on Amazon
Buy The One and Only Ivan at a local store through Indie Bound

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