Michael's Musings

FridayReads: The One and Only Ivan

(FridayReads is a weekly feature in which I discuss a book that I’m either currently reading or just have on my mind. It is inspired by @TheBookMaven and her #FridayReads hashtag.)

Today I’ll write a little bit about one of the books that I hope gets recognized by ALSC next month. I first read it nearly a year ago, and I’m currently re-reading it. The novel in question?

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

I fell in love with this book from page one, right from the opening lines:

I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.
It’s not as easy as it looks.

The One and Only Ivan is a beautiful story about a silverback gorilla living in a display within a shopping mall, and his efforts to care for a baby elephant. It’s a story about the awakening of hope, and the lengths to which one will go to keep it alive.

The voice Ms. Applegate establishes for Ivan is truly powerful. It’s simple and declarative, not at all flashy — but with a surprising depth of feeling. It’s funny; it’s devastating; it’s un-put-downable. If you want to learn how to wring a maximum of emotion from a minimum of wordage, read this book.

Scratch that. No qualifications. Just read this book. It’s a destined classic.

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