Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: The One and Only Ivan

About the Book

Published January 17, 2012 by HarperCollins

GoodReads Description

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.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

My Thoughts

Most of the time, I spend my time as a teacher encouraging my students to read certain books.  Then, there are the other times that my students encourage me to pull one off of the shelf and get busy.  The One and Only Ivan was recommended to me by a sophomore boy who loves a good story.  I knew that if he was suggesting it, I was in for a good time.

Within the first ten pages, I was hooked.  I simply did not want to set it down for anything.  In fact, I woke up one morning with this book open and spread out over my face.  I swear, I was only up until midnight (which is late in the life of a teacher).

The first absolutely stunning aspect of this novel was Applegate's ability to get into the mind of a gorilla.  After looking at a variety of photos, it is obvious to me that Applegate is, after all, human.  Getting into the mind of a different person is difficult enough, let alone getting into the mind of a different species altogether!  And she did the right amount of research necessary to be able to bring some of the more instinctual and intellectual aspects of a gorilla to life.  I would not be surprised if Applegate's gorilla persona accurately portrayed what the real Ivan was thinking!  Once I was stunned by this portrayal, she stuck her mind into two elephants and a dog!  Nicely done, Ms. Applegate!

I will warn you, however, that an entire box of tissues is required for reading this novel.  Not only is there one especially unexpected sad part (Boo!) there is a very happy part that had me in tears as well.  Applegate knows how to play with her readers' emotions and does so unabashedly.

My Rating

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