The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, 2012.
First, the summary of The One and Only Ivan from the HarperCollins website:
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.
Character Who Would Have Your Back: Ivan, of course. He like a patient, protective brother to his animal friends and keeps the promises he makes, no matter how impossible they seem to fulfill.
Character You Never Hope to Meet: Mack, owner of the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade and Ivan's keeper. You can't help but cheer for Ruby when she gets the best of him in one scene. If only Mac was on the receiving end of his own claw stick, but I think the animals would have been kinder to him had the roles been reversed.
Character Who Makes You Laugh and Want to Cry at the Same Time: Little Ruby. She's so naive and vulnerable and full of hope. And I loved her endless questioning, so like a toddler with a never-ending case of Why? Why? Why?
Character Who Could Lighten a Tense Situation: Bob the dog. A stray, Bob sneaks into Ivan's cage daily to impart his wry humor and street-wise smarts. He's perfectly comfortable sleeping on Ivan's belly at night and doesn't have any use for humans. Still, he's easy to love and his one-liners are classic.
Why I Read The One and Only Ivan: I had intended to read it when it first came out, but as soon as it started getting Newbery buzz, I held off. Every year I buy the Newbery winner and Honor books in hardcover so I waited until I could get my copies with the pretty gold seal on the cover. It's not likely I'll find a book this year that I'll enjoy more than this one.
What are you reading now?