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Book Review: The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Raised by humans, Ivan the gorilla has spent years on display at a roadside attraction. He has few friends. This patient and pensive beast has a passion for art that the owner sells in the gift shop.

The tale is told from Ivan's perspective in short paragraphs and even shorter chapters. He relates conversations between his few animal friends living and performing at the mall. And though they are separated by bars, their loyalty to each other remains strong.

Despite being 300 pages, the book reads fast and is suited to upper elementary through middle school. The emotional connection to the plight of animals reminded me of Brighty of the Grand Canyon. Younger readers may find (view spoiler) disturbing but it is handled well.

Based on real animals, Applegate fictionalizes their thoughts in a way that is both engaging and delightful. Readers can read more about the real Ivan on Zoo Atlanta's website. I highly recommend this 2013 Newbery Award winner.

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