You may, or may not, know that I have a thing for gorillas. I have spoken of them on several occasions. I grew up with a pet gorilla that kept me safe at night, and I like to read books about gorillas.
I heard about this book, The One and Only Ivan, some time ago. It won the Newbery Medal in 2013. I heard about how fabulous it was and how sad it was. Recently I got to find out for myself. The Mom Person decided it was time to have a quiet sit down and read the book.
This is a fiction book based on a real gorilla. It’s the story of Ivan, a gorilla caught in the wild as a baby, who grew up as a pet wearing clothes and being treated as a human baby, then spent 27 years living in a cage in a shopping mall. Yes, 27 years. In a shopping mall. With no grass or trees or other gorillas. And not even a chance to go shopping!
The story is told in Ivan’s voice. This gives some real power to the tale. Ivan is a pretty easygoing fellow and doesn’t complain about the life that he has been given. He has friends in the mall circus – an elephant named Stella, a little homeless dog named Bob, and a little girl named Julia. Stella is an elderly elephant who performs in the mall circus every day. Bob likes to sleep on Ivan’s belly. And Julia is a budding artist who gave Ivan his first crayon. Ivan loves drawing and creating pictures. His keeper sells his artwork at one of the stores in the mall.
One day a new baby elephant arrives named Ruby. Ruby was taken from her home in the wild and brings new vision to the mall inhabitants. She causes Ivan to take a more realistic look at his surroundings and his life. This all leads to an interesting conclusion that I won’t tell you about – you’ll have to read the book!
This was a fantastic book! I loved hearing Ivan’s voice in my head. There were some sad parts in the book, but ultimately it was not a sad story, it was a story of hope and friendship and found joy. Ivan was a gentle soul with a big heart and great strength of character. He is my new super hero!
Everyone should read this book. Again and again.
The real Ivan lived out the last years of his life at the Atlanta Zoo. He died in 2012. He was 50 years old! You can find out more about him at the Atlanta Zoo website HERE.
Ms Applegate did an interview with NPR that you can listen to-or read if you prefer- HERE.
You can find out more about the book at the official The One and Only Ivan website HERE.
And a fun video brought to my attention by writersideup —
A book trailer done by librarian Julie Hembree –
I wish you a weekend full of joy and friends!
Your library friend