I kept seeing The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate everywhere: the children’s section of the library, book stores, my library’s ebook website… One of the items on my bucket list is to read all of the Newbery Medal books and this book won that award in 2013 so I gave it a try.
I see why it won.
The One and Only Ivan is a silverback gorilla who lives in a shopping mall. In the middle of the mall, next to the food court, is a circus where shows are performed three times a day. Ivan paints pictures with crayons and finger paints and the mall gift shop sells them for twenty-five dollars framed. Ivan’s best friend is Stella, an elephant who lives in the domain (not cage) next door. One day a new baby elephant, Ruby, arrives.
Not long after that, Stella asks Ivan to make a promise.
This was a great story. I really loved it. I’m sure my kids will love reading it, too. I already plan to assign it to my two oldest for the upcoming school year. I also loved that it had a very balanced, pragmatic environmental message: animals don’t belong in cages, but there are very good zoos that take good care of animals and do good things for them.