Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}'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: childrens, i-heart-the-cover-art, fantasy, favourites, read-in-2012, bought-in-2012, stand-alone, m-read, dtb
Recommended to Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship} by: Shannon
Recommended for: Everyone aged 12+

Chicken soup for the soul. The Grinch himself would be hard-pressed not to empathise with Ivan's story. With a gorgeous cover and a heartbreaking memoir of a lonely, caged gorilla living among other mistreated "circus" animals, delivered via emotionally-charged and insightful writing, Ms. Applegate forced tears from this stoic, 25-year-old pessimist.


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 and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback.

The names are mine, but they're not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan.

Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.'

By reading The One and Only Ivan we walk a few miles in Ivan's shoes, so to speak. His wistful words touch your heart. His friend, Stella the elephant, twists your soul with her story and sentiments. Ruby, the baby elephant, you're desperate to save from Stella's fate. My arms ached with wanting to hug these (obviously wild and dangerous) creatures.

'Every night, when the stores close and the moon washes the world with milky light, Stella and I talk.

We don't have much in common, but we have enough. We are huge and alone, and we both love yogurt raisins.

Sometimes Stella tells stories of her childhood, of leafy canopies hidden by mist and the busy songs of flowing water. Unlike me, she recalls every detail of her past.'

The graceful language is simple and concise yet colourfully illuminating. No words are wasted. The author implies rather than tells, allowing readers to draw our own conclusions. The lovely illustrations are sparse but functional. I knew early on this would be a five star re-read. Ivan's philisophical observations, his acceptance of his circumstances, his stubborn desire to never remember his wild and free childhood before he was captured, his all-consuming, engrossing characterisation, and the way he changes to become the silverback he's always wanted to be, like his father, when he meets Ruby -make this a page-turner.

'I am never angry.

Anger is precious. A silverback uses anger to maintain order and warn his troop of danger. When my father beat his chest, it was to say, Beware, listen, I am in charge. I am angry to protect you, because that is what I was born to do.

Here in my domain, there is no one to protect.'

At page 72, my heart clenched and my eyes misted over with the introduction of baby Ruby, her distress and Stella's comfort...I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Ruby's a curious innocent you want to protect, and Ivan and Stella do their best.

This story is loosely based on a real gorilla called Ivan, and other elements of it are real too. I've come away thinking the human race are scum that should be exterminated to allow all animals to live natural, peaceful lives without fear of human murderers and torturers. Me, the meat-eating non-pacifist. I suddenly feel the need to contribute to an animal welfare charity. That's probably the message working its magic on me.

I highly recommend this captivating book to everyone over the age of 12, because the beginning is full of the depressing reality of cruelty to animals despite the sweet and somewhat predictable happy-ever-after ending. Even those with hearts made of ice can't fail to melt whilst reading this.

***A special thank you to Shannon and her status updates which inspired me to read this.***
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Reading Progress

April 21, 2012 – Shelved
April 21, 2012 – Shelved as: childrens
June 25, 2012 – Started Reading
June 25, 2012 – Shelved as: i-heart-the-cover-art
June 25, 2012 – Shelved as: fantasy
June 25, 2012 –
page 1
0.33% "Such a pretty, pretty cover."
June 26, 2012 – Shelved as: favourites
June 26, 2012 – Shelved as: read-in-2012
June 26, 2012 – Shelved as: bought-in-2012
June 26, 2012 – Finished Reading
June 28, 2012 – Shelved as: stand-alone
March 6, 2013 – Shelved as: m-read
July 12, 2014 – Shelved as: dtb

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Shannon Absolutely beautiful review. You made me tear up all over again!

Thanks for the mention, as well : )

Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship} Aw, thank you. Sorry about that. And you're welcome. ;)

message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim As THT said, this is truly a beautiful review! You left me feeling inspired as well.:)

Shannon This is the 2013 Newbery Medal winner!!!

Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship} The Holy Terror wrote: "This is the 2013 Newbery Medal winner!!!"

Well deserved! *gives round of applause*

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