Title: The One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade Fiction
Number of Pages: 307
I almost didn’t read this book because I thought it might be too young for me, but I’m glad I did. The hype finally convinced me, and even though the storyline made me hate humans a little bit it ended up being worth it. The One and Only Ivan is narrated by the titular gorilla, who lives a lonely existence in a mall where animals are held in captivity to collect revenue.
Ivan likes yogurt-covered raisins, drawing pictures, and his friends Stella (an elephant) and Bob (a dog;) he’s adjusted to the monotony of his life and hasn’t seen any other gorillas in years. When a baby elephant named Ruby is introduced to the other animals, Ivan slowly begins to discover purpose in his life as he attempts to save Ruby from a dismal future.
Ivan is a memorable protagonist and the simple, minimalistic writing style has a lot of big feelings behind it. This book isn’t afraid to tackle tough issues concerning animal welfare but for all the bittersweet and sad moments, there’s a underlying message of hope. I would recommend this book to both kids and adults and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel focusing on Ivan’s dog friend, The One and Only Bob.