Every once in a while a book comes along that is so compelling, you can’t put it down. It’s a book that BEGS to be read aloud and even when you have no clue where you are going-you can’t help wanting to be part of the journey. THAT is what reading The One and Only Ivan is like.
I bought this book (in hardback, traditional format, by the way) because it promised a story of a Gorilla who was the main attraction at a circus-themed mall who befriends a young girl by the
name of Julia in whom he has found a kindred spirit. I couldn’t help seeing a connection between the story of this unlikely friendship and the one my son enjoys with a Gibbon at our local Zoo and knew it would be the kind of story he could relate to even though I worried that it would end in some kind of Old Yeller/Where the Red Fern Grows tragedy.
What a found was a beautiful fictionalized story of a real gorilla who was in a cage for 27 years before the public outcry demanded he be relocated to a zoo where he could live out his days among his own kind. Applegate did a wonderful job of tapping into the emotions of an ape who wonders if he is the last of his great race and who discusses the world beyond his “domain” with his friends which include two elephants and a stray dog, and communicates with his human companion through a shared love of art. Applegate did such a good job, that The One and Only Ivan received the Newberry Medal and in my opinion, it was most deserving of the honor. BUY IT, BUY IT, BUY IT and share it with everyone you know. You will laugh, you will cry, you will cheer, but you will not want to put it down. Trust me on this one. This is a book that is perfect for ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages!