Good Read: The One and Only Ivan

Apr 4, 2013

We continue our occasional series previewing good reads for young adults from Katherine Farmer, Coordinator of the Racers Children's Preview Collection at Murray State University. This week's recommended read is The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, a Newberry Winning book for ages 8 and up that School Library Journal describes as a must-have, that the characters will capture readers' hearts and never let go.

Grades 4-8 - 2013 Newbery Winner

Every time I visit a pet store, a side show, or even a zoo, when I see an animal in the window, I always wonder what they are thinking.  What is their life like? What did they experience before they were the animals in the window? How could their life be different outside of the windows or cages?

The Newbery winning The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate tells the tale of Ivan, a gorilla that lives in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, from his point of view.  He observes the world of human visitors who stop by to visit him and his friends Stella, an elephant, and Bob, a stray dog.  When he is not people watching, he is watching TV and drawing pictures that are sold in the gift shop for $25 dollars apiece. His life begins to change when his owner Mack begins to lose money and is willing to try anything to fix it. Consumed with worry and struggling with anger, Mack feels that new life must be brought to the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, so he brings a new baby elephant, Ruby, to the show.  She is young and afraid and doesn't know what to do in her little glass room.  

Ivan struggles with how to help his new friend survive in her new home. What can Ivan do to help Ruby adjust to the new home?  If tragedy strikes the mall, can Ivan save Ruby? Can a new home be found for Ivan and Ruby? To find out what happens to the animals at Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, read the adorable and wonderful glimpse into the life of Ivan in The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

Katherine Farmer is the Coordinator of the Racers Children's Preview Collection at Murray State University. Hear her next good read next Thursday on Sounds Good.