The One and Only Ivan: A Book Review

Hi!

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Summary: Ivan can barely remember his life outside of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Day in, day out, humans come in and watch him inside his glass domain. Ivan watches TV, hangs out with his friends Stella, an elephant, and Bob, a stray dog, and eats bananas. But nothing compares to his true joy – drawing. Using crayons and paints from his human friend, Julia, Ivan contemplates what color would be best for that banana peel, or how to draw such a tiny beetle. However easy life may be for Ivan, his owner, Mack, is losing money, and he needs a way to fix it. In comes Ruby, a baby elephant, to bring attention to the mall. However, when tragedy strikes, Ivan has to make a promise to try his best to get Ruby out of there. It won’t be easy, but Ivan is one determined gorilla :)

My Thoughts: *Spoilers* Oh. My. This was incredibly well-written and oh-so adorable! I can already tell that this will win at least one award :) I saw this on Amazon and fell in love with the cover, so I immediately put it on hold at the library. I’ve heard of Katherine Applegate before, but I’ve never actually looked into her books. As my first read, The One and Only Ivan left a lovely impression. The story is told in short, and I mean, short chapters. Some aren’t even a page long! However, this feature set the tone for the story, and I found it fitting to Ivan. His mind is always racing with different thoughts, so each chapter was a new topic. I <3 that the book was told from Ivan’s point of view. It may have been an obvious choice, but I really enjoyed hearing what he had to say. I found it funny when Mack couldn’t tell what he drew, but Ivan was like, “Duh! It’s a beetle!” Come on, Mack :) I noticed the budding romance at the end with Ivan and the other gorilla, but the author just ended it. I wished there was even a page of how Ivan felt about that. Stella and Bob were two examples of great friends. Both supported Ivan, and were always cheerful. I wanted to cry when Stella died, but I knew that Ivan would keep his promise. In that sense, he kind of brought a little Stella with him. Bob had it tough, so I was so happy for him when Julia and George adopted him. Speaking of Julia, she was a sweetie. Loved her just as much as I liked George, her dad. Those two went against the rules all for the animals, and I thought that was such a nice touch. The development was fair in the story. Ivan’s character development fully “blossomed” closer to the middle, when we learned about his childhood. I don’t know how I felt about Mack. He was nice, but evil at the same time?! I don’t know… Anyhoo, this was a wonderfully written and sweet book, one that I am totally putting on “Best Books of 2012.”

Pros: The characters had this sense of simplicity. There was no brand names or teenage mean girls, all of which are common in upper elementary/middle school reads. This is similar to the characters in Small as an Elephant. I really appreciate stories like these because they’re not that common. Otherwise, the story was well-developed and the animals felt “real.”

Cons: There were a few places where the author could have added to, but I don’t think the intended audience will care that much.

Heads Up: Animal cruelty is described.

Overall: I give it 5 stars {*****} and I recommend it for ages 10 and up.

Bella :)

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