Saturday, July 21, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

     Ivan is a gorilla living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall with an elderly elephant and a stray dog.  He spends his days trying to paint what he sees in his cage so Mack, his owner, can frame the paintings and sell them in the gift shop.  When Ivan was small and cute, Mack made lots of money from visitors coming to the mall to see the animals.  Now that Ivan is a Silverback, hardly anyone comes to see him or the other animals.  Mack is stressed about the lost money, so he buys a baby elephant to bring more visitors.  Although Stella is an elderly, disabled elephant, she cares for Ruby, the baby elephant, as if she were her own.  Stella's dying wish is for Ivan to save Ruby from the mall.  His promise to Stella changes all of their lives.
     This book is based on a true story about a gorilla who lived alone in a mall cage for twenty-seven years before being rescued.  You can read about the true Ivan here.
     The chapters are only a page or two, which is good for reluctant or young readers.  The story is told from Ivan's perspective, which can be a bit confusing for an inexperienced reader.  
     I liked the book, but I thought it was a bit heavy-handed in parts.  It felt like Katherine Applegate was forcing me to care about the animals, rather than letting me develop that relationship with the animals as the story developed.  I recommend this book for animal lovers of all ages.

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