THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate

A silverback gorilla* kidnapped into a mall exhibit meets newcomer Ruby (a baby elephant) and gets the opportunity to exercised his suppressed leader/protector abilities.

Animal stories aren’t usually my thing, but I loved CRENSHAW and figured a talking gorilla and elephant just might be out-there enough for me.

This is a mentor text if you want to see:

  • Actual (strange, sad) news story made into kidlit;
  • Story introduces a moral/social issue and teaches kids a lesson in a way that is very subtle;
    • Animal welfare
    • Long-term impact of choices that seem “right” by the morality of the day
  • Subtle and well-developed character antagonist who is amplified by bad circumstances – Ivan’s memories show us how Mac became the Bad Guy;
    • Main character has a degree of affection toward antagonist (based partially on familiarity and partially on affection received in past);
  • Unclear timeline – Hey, Ivan is a gorilla…
  • Bittersweet ending that is also realistic. Ivan can’t stay with baby elephant Ruby, but the book stops where we see both will be with a group of their own kind.

*In the wild, an alpha male and leader/protector of his tribe

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