It is plain to see why this book, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, won the John Newberry Medal for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children and also why it was nominated for the 2014 Rhode Island Book Award. (I hope it wins!)
I don't think it's possible to even begin to convey how much I loved this book. It was so moving and so beautifully written. The author doesn't waste words in this book, in fact she uses them sparingly, choosing those that will evoke the deepest emotion from the reader. And evoke emotion she does! This book made me laugh and cry. It is at once both sad, yet hopeful, and speaks to the deepest part of our humanity. I recommend this book whether you are 10 years old or 100. I give it 5 stars!!!
While this book is fiction, it is based on the real life of a gorilla named Ivan who spent 27 years alone in a cage at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. He was captured as an infant from his home in the Congo (his twin died on the journey to the US) and was sold to become a sideshow attraction.
In this story Ivan is an easygoing, friendly gorilla who loves to create art. He spends his days watching TV, drawing or painting, and thinking about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. Then Ivan meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, much like the way Ivan had been, and everything changes. Ivan is determined to become the great silverback he is meant to be...a protector!
If you do not love this book then surely you are not human and must be a robot!