The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What an adorable little book that helps portray the message of helping others to today's youth! Applegate's Newberry Winner, "The One And Only Ivan" is a must read for young adults and anyone who just wants to read a feel-good tale.
Ivan is a gorilla who has lived at a mall for almost 27 years (!) and has a fondness for creating art. He draws, paints and sculpts for his animal friends Stella, an elderly elephant and Bob, a stray mutt. On the day a young elephant Ruby shows up, Ivan is forever changed by the notion to protect this newly introduced innocence, and he strives to make a change. He is "the mighty silverback" and will stop at nothing to save Ruby from the horrors that come with exotic animal showmanship.
The most impressive feature of this title was the style in which it was told. It is very simplistic and quite easy to speed through. It is a page turner indeed. This is not a style that can be mastered easily, and Applegate succeeds tremendously at telling the story of Ivan's mission to save Ruby, the humor that exists between the animal friends, and the sadness that lies within the backstory of animal captivity. This author will punch you in the gut when she has Ivan tell you his history, as well as have you cheering for him during his endeavors. I don't think I've ever done this for a young adult book, besides for perhaps Katniss in "The Hunger Games".
As a teacher, it is lower on the lexile level for students to read, however I would assign it for them to analyze for major themes, as well as develop connections to nonfiction texts and events, much like the true Ivan in which Applegate based this fiction work off of. I enjoyed reading "The One and Only Ivan", and I believe that many young adult readers will as well.
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