Showing posts from February, 2013

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate won the Newbery Medal for the 2012 publishing year with good reason.  Written from the perspective of a gorilla named Ivan whose life is circumscribed by his glass cage in a rather grimy shopping mall, the story moves along in miniature chunks and very small chapters, bit by bit.  At first, there's plenty of time to get used to the voice of a gorilla as narrator; not much happens for awhile except the dour and repetitive life of the main attractions in a failing shopping center, and Ivan's companion Stella the elephant also begins to fail physically in her old age.  But then, with the introduction of a new baby elephant, Ivan's wistful loneliness as he longs for gorilla companionship turns to urgency.  Mack, the owner of the place and Ivan's one-time human "dad" (before he grew to be an enormous silverback), begins to threaten to abuse Ruby, the new baby elephant.  These are difficult issues, and, despite the fi