Barbara's Reviews > The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
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Sep 29, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: animals, abusive-relationships, art, bullies, community, death, families, friendship, literacy, ncbla2013, social-activists
Read in September, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Silverback gorilla Ivan has lived in a small cage in a circus-themed mall for almost three decades, most of his life. He spends his days watching television, painting, and chatting with Stella, his elephant friend, and Bob, a tiny dog that survived being tossed from a truck onto the freeway. When Ruby, a tiny elephant, joins the other animals, Stella persuades Ivan that he must find a way to save her from living in a cage. While a zoo is not ideal, it's the best alternative available, and Ivan will do anything he can to keep his promise to Stella. As he begins to remember his life before the mall, he slowly reconnects with his true nature. As I knew it would, this book broke my heart as I read of how Ivan had been captured and treated by Mack and witnessed Stella's demise. What seemed most apparent was that Mack wasn't a bad person; he was simply thoughtless and more concerned about making money than taking good care of his animals, including Ivan. It's easy for daily preoccupations to distract humans, and Mack simply stopped seeing Ivan and Stella and the others as anything other than meal tickets. Thank goodness for George, the janitor, and his daughter Julia, both of whom cared about the animals and provided a much-needed contrast to Mack and some of the mall visitors. While I couldn't believe that Ivan would be able to summon the ability to detect letters from watching television and looking at a billboard and that Julia would figure out his message, I still loved that he was asserting himself while fooling Mack. The story's happy ending was satisfying, and I was more than a little bit relieved that even Bob with all of his claims to not need anyone, also found a place where he would be loved. As I read this book, I could not help thinking again and again about how little thought we give to the animals around us. I was so relieved when enough attention was brought to the plight of these animals that they were taken from Mack, but I also wondered why it took so long for anyone to notice or to care enough to demand that they be given better lives. How many other places like Mack's seedy sideshow exist in the world? Be forewarned, readers: This title will tug at your heart and force you to read without stopping. There really is heroism in the heart of a gorilla named Ivan who lived in an Atlanta zoo. Even though I finished the book last night, I am still thinking about each of them--and yes, missing them.
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06/24 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Donalyn Ivan recently passed away and Katherine Applegate attended his memorial service.


Barbara Oh, no, Donalyn! I feel as though I just met him. I will look for information on her website. Thanks for telling me.


message 3: by Rani (new)

Rani Save this for me, please!


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