The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate: A Lesson in Animal Rights

Most of you are probably already aware of the award-winning author, Katherine Applegate. Her books include the 2008 Golden Kite Award-winning Home of the Brave, the chapter book series Roscoe Riley Rules (#1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs), and The Buffalo Storm, a picture book. She is also the co-creator (with her husband, Michael Grant) of the Animorphs series (#1: The Invasion), a publishing phenomenon that has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide. So it should be of no surprise that her latest novel (a book that’s based on real events that is written in free-verse form), The One and Only Ivan, is a thoroughly enjoyable—albeit tear-inducing at times—read. No. Let’s be a bit more emphatic: It’s a show-stopper.

The protagonist of The One and Only Ivan is not a wayward kid with issues or even one who learns a valuable lesson. He’s a Silverback gorilla—and he lives in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade off of Interstate 95. Each and every day of the year, he “knuckle walks” around his scraggly cage, hoots and hollers, and occasionally draws pictures of bananas and the other things in his cage that are then sold in the neighboring gift shop for $20 a pop ($25 if framed). He’s dreadfully alone, save for Stella, the aging and ailing elephant housed next-door; Bob, a stray mutt who keeps everyone company; Julie, the young daughter of a kind night janitor who cleans the mall; and lest we forget the hordes of curious onlookers that come to gawk at and mimic the animals each day. It’s a miserable existence, but one Ivan’s grown used to because he doesn’t know any better . . . it’s been that way ever since he can remember.

To read the rest of the post, please visit  Letter Blocks: The B&N Parents and Educators Blog.

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