The One and Only Ivan, a middle grade bestseller and 2013 Newbery winner, has something to appeal to animal lovers of any age. Inspired by the true story of a real captive gorilla, Katherine Applegate tells of unexpected friendships and kindnesses from the point-of-view of a gorilla.
After being stolen from his family in the jungle Ivan is raised by well-meaning humans until he grows too big to be a pet. He then finds himself caged and isolated from others of his kind for decades in a sad little mall. He spends his days watching TV, painting, and conversing with two friends: Stella, an aging elephant crippled by abusive trainers, and Bob, a stray dog who has made the mall his home. When Ruby, a new baby elephant is brought in to attract more visitors, her sadness causes Ivan to see his domain is for what it is. He promises to help her. With understanding from the janitor’s young daughter, Ivan is able to communicate their plight. You’ll have to read it to find out how.
“Humans speak too much. They chatter like chimps, crowding the world with their noise even when they have nothing to say.”
“I have been in my domain for nine thousand eight hundred and fifty-five days.”
“I’ve never asked for a promise before, because promises are forever, and forever is an unusually long time. Especially when you’re in a cage.”
“Is there anything sweeter that the touch of another as she pulls a dead bug from your fur?
With its themes of friendship, compassion, and hope, Ivan reminded me of Charlotte’s Web, hence, I happily recommend it to you and any young ones you know.