The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate


Original Title: The One and Only Ivan

Year Published: 2012

Published by: HarperCollins Children’s Books

Number of Pages: 252

First Sentence: I am Ivan.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5


Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

My thoughts:

I was rendered speechless by this book. For the first time in some years, I actually shed a tear reading a book. This book first broke my heart and then carefully pieced it back together. If you, like me, get really emotional when animals are involved then do read this with a packet of tissues next to you. You will need them.

Oh Ivan. Never did I think that I would feel so much for a gorilla. But oh my, I wanted to take him straight out of the book and keep him safe from all the evils in the world.

Stella, Bob and Ruby, two elephants and a dog, add even more heart to this story. You end up invested in all of their fates and either cry or sigh happily at how it ends.

The writing is superb and draws you in. It is written from Ivan’s perspective but just adapted to a gorilla in small ways. It has completely humanized the animal which is what makes it so extremely heartbreaking to read.

Do I recommend it? 

Oh god yes! If you’re only gonna read one more book this year make it this one! I would recommend it to everyone.


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