Monday, March 3, 2014

The One and Only Ivan

Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan has been on my to-read list for quite some time.  I picked it up at the library for my daughter to read and soon found myself on the couch engrossed in the book.

It tells the story of Ivan, a gorilla, who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade with his friends Stella, an old elephant, and Bob, the stray dog.  It is a stark existence but Ivan is happy, and can't really, or chooses not to, remember his life before.  But when a new baby elephant, Ruby, comes to live with them Ivan is forced to view his home and family in a new light.

The chapters are short and there is a lot of white space on all of the pages.  I feel like the emptiness on the page reflects that found at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall.

What I love about this book is that the Applegate presents a story that is filled with love and loss, and a search for home and family in such a way that is accessible to its intended audience - 8 - 12 year olds.  My 8-year-old daughter read it after me and really enjoyed it, although she found it sad, and I think it forced her to think about some of these bigger life issues in a way that was manageable, and enjoyable, for her.

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