The One and Only Ivan

I finished a beautiful children’s book today called The One and Only Ivan (published January 2012) by Katherine Applegate. Based on the real-life Silverback gorilla who spent 27 years in a cage at a Tacoma, Washington, shopping mall, Ivan has been at Zoo Atlanta for eighteen years–after a public outcry called for his relocation. Like his fictional alter ego, the real-life Ivan does artwork and “signs” his creations with his thumbprint. Here’s an article from two years ago from the Zoo’s website: October brings milestones for four famous gorillas.

Ivan’s best friends at the Big Top Mall are Stella, an elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. Thelma, a macaw, is also part of the menagerie.There’s a lot that he remembers and thinks about, and a lot that he’d prefer to forget. Mack is the owner of the struggling Big Top Mall. George is the janitor and caretaker, and his daughter, Julia, loves the animals and ultimately plays an important role in the story. But when Mack buys Ruby, a young elephant from  a bankrupt circus, things truly begin to change…

Written simply and powerfully through Ivan’s eyes, readers of any age will  take away something from it–perhaps looking at the world–and animals–in ways that never occurred to them before. It is truly moving.


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Filed under Animals, Children's Books, New Titles

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