Monday, January 9, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The One and Only Ivan -- by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao (coming January 17, 2012 from HarperCollins, 9780061992254, $16.99, ages 8 to 12)

Source:  advanced reading copy from publisher

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
Why I liked it:  Based on a true story, this is far different from all the middle grade novels I've read recently. The prose is deceptively spare and simple, told from Ivan's point of view.  Yet it reverberates with deeper meaning, with wisdom and humor and heartache.  If caged animals could talk, imagine what they would tell us.  Katherine Applegate has imagined that, and done it beautifully.  This is one of those books that kids will latch onto and want to read again and again.

Has anyone read this yet?  If not, what animal stories have touched your heart?

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger. Other regulars include (but are not limited to):

Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Barbara Watson at her blog
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael G-G at Middle Grade Mafioso
Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty
Ms. Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads
Danika Dinsmore at The Accidental Novelist
Jennifer Rumberger at her blog
Akoss at Nye Louwon--My Spirit
Gabrielle Prendergast at angelhorn
Sheri Larsen at her blog

Don't forget my giveaways!  

Go to this post to win a hardcover copy of May B. 

Go to this post to win an arc of The Gathering Storm. 

Good luck!


  1. Sounds like a good book. I hadn't heard of it.

    I just read May B. and loved it.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Natalie. Try to check it out. And so glad that you love MAY B.

    Yes, Caroline! You're absolutely right. I debated whether or not to mention that in the review because IVAN is so different.

  4. I haven't read this one, but I will definitely be getting a copy. Katherine Appelt's THE UNDERNEATH still lingers with me a few years after reading it. AMAZING!

  5. My kids and I just read her book HOME OF THE BRAVE last month. It, too, was simple and heart-tugging in its presentation. Katherine Applegate has 'it.'

  6. Oh yes, Shannon! There's another animal book that touches people's hearts. I loved THE UNDERNEATH, even though it was dark and sad. IVAN is a little more hopeful, I'd say.

    Barbara, I have not read HOME OF THE BRAVE, but I'll add it to the TBR list. Thanks. Yes, she does have talent. Her prose feels like poetry. Each word is perfect.

  7. I haven't read an animal story in a very long time. Time for me to start compiling a list then.

  8. This sounds wonderful, and quite different from the sorts of things I usually read. Thanks for posting the review!

  9. Hi Akoss. Oh yes, you should read an animal story. Maybe this one! Let us all know if you do compile a list.

    Welcome, Ruth! It really is different. That's one of the reasons I loved it.

  10. I'd never heard of it until you mentioned it. It does sound good, though.

  11. It's heartwarming, Stina! Thanks for stopping by.

  12. This is the second time I have seen mention of this book. I'm glad to hear your thoughts! The last animal book I read was Secrets at Sea, and you know I loved that! :)

  13. And on the list grows! Thanks for this!

  14. Weird. I thought I answered these last two comments yesterday! Did Google eat my comment??

    Jennifer: oh yes, Secrets at Sea is adorable. This one is more thought-provoking.

    You're welcome, Deb. Haha. Yes, my TBR list gets ever longer, thanks to all the MMGM love out there!


I've disabled comments on this blog. I may be back at some time in the future, but for now, please visit my website:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.