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Monday, August 27, 2012

Poetic and Powerful, The One and Only Ivan Truly Is One-of-a-Kind

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's not easy being a silverback gorilla.  Especially one who's caged up at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  Just ask Ivan.  He's been the main attraction there for most of his 27 years.  The wild, he knows from experience, is a dangerous place and, yet, he longs for his lost home and the family he left behind.  Those memories are dim, though; to survive, Ivan must push them away.  It's the only way to be satisfied with a life spent behind bars.  So, Ivan concentrates on his friends, his paintings, and the tiny world of the Big Top Mall—the only world he's really ever known.    

Then Ruby arrives.  The terrified baby elephant is slated to become the Big Top Mall's new star, but she's too scared to cooperate.  Ivan knows he has to protect little Ruby.  His jungle instincts haven't been totally erased by his pampered life and yet, Ivan can't think of how to save her.  He only knows he must.  And soon.

There's no way to capture the essence of The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate in a simple plot summary.  I'm convinced it can't be done.  Why?  Because the story inside this unassuming book packs a wallop so big that it can't be contained, let alone explained.  In spare, but lovely prose, Applegate tells a beautiful tale that's poetic, powerful, and purposeful.  I can't begin to describe how deeply it touched me, so just trust me on this one—you want to read Ivan's story.

Note:  Although The One and Only Ivan is a work of fiction, it's based on a real story, which you can read about here.    

(Readalikes:  I really can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:  A

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for some disturbing content (animal cruelty)

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed The One and Only Ivan from my kids' elementary school library as part of my volunteer work with the school's reading program. 

4 comments:

  1. I've really got to read this one. I'm terrible about seeing a book and wanting to read it and then never getting around to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! I had this one for about 5 months before I finally got around to it. It's middle grade and basically a verse novel, so it's a fast read. A really good one, too :)

      Delete
  2. I heard that the real Ivan died last week. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/21/4744413/zoo-atlanta-mourns-death-of-50.html

    ReplyDelete

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