The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

“Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part.” 
― Katherine ApplegateThe One and Only Ivan

Ivan, a Lowland Gorilla, has lived in Exit 8 Mall for over 30 years.  The only time is is able to step out of his very small cage is when it’s his turn to perform in the circus.  Ivan is a very special Gorilla. Applegate manages to humanize Ivan by telling the story from his point of view.  Ivan loves to draw.  He uses his drawing as a coping strategy for the lonely life he is forced to lead. Stella is an elderly elephant and Ivan’s cage neighbor/circus partner and good friend.  The janitor’s daughter befriends Ivan, bringing him crayons and paper.  He also befriended Bob, a stray mall dog. Life is the same every day for Ivan until one day it isn’t….

A baby elephant named Ruby is brought in to help raise attendance at the circus.  Afraid and lonely, Ivan’s mission is to help Ruby.  She becomes family to Ivan and Stella.  Until one day something even more terrible happens.

Really there are no words to describe the level of different emotions you will feel when reading this story. First, you will fall in love with the beautiful animals in this story. Second you will probably feel angry.  After reading this book, I never ever will go to another circus again.  Always skeptical of the treatment of animals at the circus, this just confirmed my feelings.

So many children will adore Ivan!  This book is such an important read for middle grades and adults alike!  You won’t forget this book!

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