The One and Only Ivan

A book by Katherine Applegate

Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers


     Ivan is the One and Only gorilla, a sideshow attraction at an economically-struggling shopping mall. He lives in a cage, and is content to sit and eat and make art and be ogled by the dwindling number of visitors on the other side of the glass. But when the mall brings in a baby elephant to increase business, Ivan promises that this new addition will not live out her life in a cage, to die behind bars like her predecessor. Using his art and his newly found determination, Ivan will do anything to make her life as happy as it ought to be.


Quality: 5 stars out of 5


     Every once in a while there comes a book that is so pure, so genuine, it feels as if you are reading a cloud. The characters are haunting, and the story is heartbreakingly uplifting. I will never forget this book. While bringing attention to the horrors animals face in poaching and the extraction from their natural habitats to the zoos and circuses we take for granted, this story weaves a tale of friendship, love, courage and loyalty so deep that you can feel it in your bones. It is truly a gem, and one of the most touching and unforgettable books I have ever read.


     I love the cover. I think that a photograph of a gorilla's hand holding a crayon or covered in paint would also work, or maybe a picture of a gorilla holding an elephant's trunk in friendship. But the magical quality in the painting and the companionship demonstrated by their back-to-back positions makes it really heartwarming.


Clare Schuett is 16 and lives in Sebastopol California. She is a lover of books and a voracious reader. She reviews YA books, prior to their publication, for the American Library Association. We have the privilege of posting her reviews on our blog.



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