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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Audible Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This is a charming story.
The One and Only Ivan
By: Katherine Applegate, Patricia Castelao (Illustrator)
Narrated by: Adam Grupper
The One and Only Ivan cover art
Length: 3 hrs and 46 mins
Release date: 03-14-13
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: Animals, Children
My Rating: 4.50 of 5.0

Publisher's Summary
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.
Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan's unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
©2012 Katherine Applegate (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers

Ivan, a silverback gorilla, has lived most of his life in a small, uninspired mall mini circus. Ivan barely remembers his old home and family as those memories bring a poignant sadness. Ivan has a gentle friendship with the other animals and Julia, the young daughter of the mall maintenance man. Ivan and Julia share a love of art although Ivan’s efforts are much less clear than Julia’s. Ivan's other friends are Stella, an elephant with a damaged leg, and Bob, a stray dog who snuck in off the streets of the world and who sleeps on Ivan’s belly. Then the mall owner purchases Ruby, a baby elephant, in hopes of picking up business. But Ruby is untrained and the owner's methods of training makes all the animals unhappy.

As Stella becomes ill from her infected foot, she makes Ivan promise that he will take care of Ruby. Ivan isn’t sure how he can help Ruby and struggles to accomplish a plan once he comes up with one.

Ivan, and the other animals, are lovely characters and the story is charming. I don’t agree with the statement that we evolved from Apes, but other than that, this shares interesting details about apes, particularly silverbacks. It also shares a wonderful message of compassion, caring, friendship and hope. There are painful moments and scenes that made me cringe at the callousness of men. Fortunately, these are overshadowed by the sweet caring shown by Ivan and his friends. The story evokes empathy for the plight of animals taken out of their natural homes to live in cages for human entertainment. This may be written for children but it is a lovely read for adults too.

Audio Notes: Adam Grupper does a wonderful job with the narration. The voices fit and the reading is seamless with no distraction from the story. I recommend this in audio although I note that the kindle and print versions have awesome illustrations.

This was from my Audible library purchased through Kid’s Sale in summer 2017. It qualifies for my Audio Challenge.

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