Review of The One and Only Ivan

I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings.  But any story will do.”

 It’s not unusual for me to choose a book for the kids and me to read based on the cover.  Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan is no exception.  The cover illustration of a contemplative gorilla sitting with his back to a grinning baby elephant glancing admirably at his large friend stood out from among the dozens of other books featured on the display of my local bookstore.  The gold medallion placed prominently in the bottom left corner indicating it was a Newberry winner sealed the deal.  My strategy did not disappoint.

The One and Only Ivan follows the story of Ivan, the mighty silverback gorilla, who is a resident of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  He, along with an elephant named Stella, a poodle named Snickers, and a cast of other animals was at one time the main attraction of this once-thriving mall, but unfortunately, Ivan and his pals no longer bring in the crowds.  Mall owner, Mack, desperate to renew interest in the Big Top Mall purchases a baby elephant named Ruby, whose presence transforms Ivan from contented gorilla into an artist with a mission.

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The Magic of Reading to Older Kids

A and C snuggle in tight, one under each arm. I open the pages of Because of Winn-Dixie and begin to read. Silence, rapt attention, interrupted now and thenbecause-of-winn by a chorus of giggles when our furry protagonist finds himself the center of a
mishap follows. Today has been declared electronic-free day, which is usually met with whining and pleading, but as soon as I crack open the pages of that book and allow the story to captivate my children, no shiny contraption, not even X-box can lure them from the magic currently igniting their imaginations.

At the close of each chapter, both children chime, “One more, mommy, please!” Though dishes pile in the sink, laundry overflows its basket, and dust sits on the furniture, I, too, am drawn into the tale and give in to my children’s pleas. (My family has this quirky inability to put down a good book until it’s finished.) Though, they are both capable of finishing the story on their own, I wouldn’t miss this time with them, so I continue to read until we reach the final page. For four hours, we lose ourselves in the world of a girl and her furry companion. I close the book and resume my housecleaning, leaving behind a lively discussion of the novel, two voices excitedly reminiscing about the highlights of this charming book.

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