Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Recommendation: THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate

First off, a quick heads-up: Brianne Johnson of Writers House will be here this Thursday for an interactive interview, so if you have a question for an up-and-coming agent at a fantastic agency, come back and ask it this Thursday, August 23! And now on to the book recommendation...

I’ve never read a book funny enough to make me laugh and poignant enough to make me cry on the exact same page*. Now I have.

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN chronicles the ho-hum life of the title character, a full-grown silverback who was captured in the Congo as an infant and raised to adulthood in a strip mall. He’s one of the main attractions at a small roadside circus and, like the other animals at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, resigned to live out his days with his crayons, his TV, and a stuffed gorilla named Not-Tag (after his twin sister, who didn’t survive the trip to America). Then a new inhabitant comes to Big Top, a baby elephant named Ruby, and neither Ivan nor the other animals are content to watch Ruby grow up behind bars.

As with so many of the other MG novels I’ve recommended, the thing I loved best about THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN was the voice. Ivan’s narration--yes, the entire book is told from his perspective--was pitch-perfect and spot-on. You know how young kids can describe things in the purest, simplest way possible and let you draw your own conclusions? So can Ivan. And the things he describes will both melt and anger you.

Inspired by a true story, Ms. Applegate’s latest is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. It is the sort of book you’ll want to reread every so often so you don’t forget. It is the sort of book you want to read out loud with your kids so they don’t miss one word.

*That page, if you’re wondering, was from the chapter called “Picasso.” It was my favorite chapter in the whole book.

12 comments:

Jess said...

I love the premise of this book and its POV. Thanks for featuring it!

Julie DeGuia said...

This is not the first blog on which I have heard good things about this book. I need a new "read-out-loud-with-the-kids" book, and this sounds perfect! Thanks for sharing!

cameronkellyrosenblum said...

I was surprised that, in spite of sad events, the book is so positive. Ivan's humor, and the timing in much of the dialog, is fabulous. Almost Charlotte's Webian.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

My pleasure, Jess! I'm glad you liked it, too.

Julie, this would be a great one to read with your kids. I think it would inspire a lot of conversation.

Exactly, cameronkellyrosenblum. That's a great point.

Noelle Henry said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I'm always looking for good MG books for my boys and this seems like something they'd really love. Putting it on my list! :)

Tara Dairman said...

A recommendation from Krista means that this book goes straight to the top of my to-read list! Maybe I can pair it with CHAINED and have an elephant-themed MG-reading week? =)

jamieayres.com said...

Inspired by a true story? WOW . . .and those are the best kind, IMHO:-) I'll be sure to check it out and tell my 12-yr-old!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Noelle, you'll have to let me know what you and your boys think!

Wow, Tara, what high praise. I hope you like it!

You can't make this stuff up, right, Jamie? It was such an inspiring book. I wonder what the real Ivan would think... :)

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

I loved this book, too. So well done!

ocdtalk said...

My kids are grown, but I still plan on reading this book!

Jennifer Malone said...

Oh, the power you have over me- just got back from my library with this book tucked under my arm. Can't wait to dive in!!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Amy, I think I'd heard about this book before I read your review, but it was your post that reminded me to check it out from the library:)

Yes, ocdtalk, this one's definitely not just for kids!

Jennifer, all I have to say is, "Mwa ha, ha, ha, ha!" :)