The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

I was saddened to learn that this fictional story of Ivan the gorilla was based on a true story.  I can only imagine the public outcry after learning of Ivan spending 27 years locked up in a mall, away from other primates.  In this story, Ivan narrates his own story of heartbreak, friendship and hope.  However, readers will also be introduced to other memorable animals, such as: Bob (dog), and Stella/Ruby (elephants).

The One and Only Ivan is a quick read, broken down by short chapters. I listened to the audiobook and wonder if reading the physical book would have been a better experience. Although the narrator did a great job at imagining Ivan’s voice (deep, strong), I found that the short chapter titles affected the flow of the story.ivan

This book has won many awards, including the prestigious 2013 Newbery.  I’m clearly late to the party, but so glad I finally read it. The topic of animals in captivity is not always an easy read-especially for children, but this one is done extremely well. Applegate has even written a book for the youngest of readers in picture book format.  Clearly, Ivan’s story is a crucial one to tell and will very likely inspire young animal advocates. His story will continue to reach audiences as The One and Only Ivan is currently in filming, and features the voices of Angelina Jolie and Bryan Cranston.

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