Sarah's Reviews > The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
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's review
Apr 21, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012
Read in April, 2012

"I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It's not as easy as it looks. People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One an Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback. The names are mine, but they're not me. I'm Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan. Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part."

So begins this novel, told in the first-person (gorilla), based on the true story of Ivan, who spent 27 years of his life in a 14 x 14 foot cage at a circus-themed mall in Tacoma, Washington. Mack, the zookeeper isn't an evil man. It's not as simple as that. He's just a guy trying to earn a living and people just aren't flocking to the attractions like they used to. Ivan loves painting pictures and Mack sells the paintings for $25, including frame, to supplement his income. They've accepted their lot in life, but the introduction of baby elephant, Ruby, to the menagerie changes everything. Ivan uses his love of art to try to create a better life for Ruby. Profound and philosophical, told in spare, lyrical text which begs to be read aloud, this novel reads like a classic, reminiscent of Charlotte's Web. A joy to read for ages 8 - 88.

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