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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Review: The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan - Patricia Castelao, Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan is a wonderful story that takes place on a farm called the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. On this farm, animals of different species are able to communicate with one another, though they can't talk to humans. One of these animals is Charlotte, an old elephant full of considerable wisdom. And there is Ruby, a curious pig who seeks companionship from the other animals, but is quickly dismissed by all but Charlotte. Charlotte takes Ruby into her care. When the other animals realize that Ruby is being raised for the slaughter, they rally to save her. Eventually, Charlotte reaches the end of her life, so she magically transfers all her wisdom to a silverback gorilla named Ivan. Ivan is very talented: he can spin a web that spans the globe as though he were a giant spider. Despite being an ape who talks with geese, bears, and sheep, Ivan cannot speak to the humans, so he uses the worldwide web to express his concern for Ruby. 'TERRIFIC,' he writes in one. 'HOME PIG,' he writes in another… I’ll stop there to avoid spoiling the story.

In addition to the main characters, there’s a dog named Templeton who obsesses over eating… or was it sleeping? He’s there mostly to give a few chuckles to a mostly sad story. Also, there’s a little girl named Julia… or was it Fern? And there are some sheep and a parrot that are mostly in the background, providing a little dialogue or comedy when needed… though it may have been a sun bear and a goose… I get confused.

The One and Only Ivan is a wholly original story unlike any other. I liked it.