Sunday 19 February 2012

50. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Published February 2012 Harper Collins

From the publisher:

Ivan is an easy-going 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 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.

Ivan is a proud silverback who lives in a shopping mall.  He hardly remembers his life before this. His parents and sister all killed by humans, and now Ivan sits in his domain to be stared at by other humans.

His family now are Stella (the elephant) and Bob the stray dog, and later Ruby the baby elephant.  When Ivan makes a promise to Stella, he must find a way to give Ruby a better life, and he uses his art to get her there.  With the help of Julia, Ivan manages to get his message out to the masses.

All told in Ivan's voice this is a beautiful and heartbreaking story about  friendship, love and family as well as the not so nice side of human nature.  I have put the age as 10+, mainly because of the treatment of the animals, it may be too much for younger readers.  In saying that, it isn't a difficult read, so it may be fine for a mature younger reader.

This is actually based on a true story!  There really was an Ivan, and there really was a circus-themed shopping centre.
Click here to read an article about the real Ivan.

Who will like this book: Girls and Boys age 10+
Read it if you like: Real life animal stories

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