|The One and Only Ivan|
by Katherine Applegate
"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."
I may be the only person on the planet who didn't think this book was amazing. It won the Newbery Medal for 2013. But after reading reviews that used words like "life-changing", "it transformed me", and "I cried for the last 30 pages", I was expecting a little more. It was a sweet story, if quite predictable. It just didn't pull me in. Charlotte's Web (another children's book with humanized animals that received the Newbery Honor Award) had me from the first sentence. My lack of feeling for this book may stem, in part, from the double spacing and empty pages. I felt that made the whole thing seem rather choppy and disturbed the flow. However, I can see middle schoolers enjoying this book. The animal characters are charming, the story is sweet and simple with a happy ending.
On another note...I rarely agree with the Newbery winners, so I'm not surprised that I just found this book okay, but it still leaves me flabbergasted that Wonder didn't even get a nod from the Newbery people and this is what won the award. *Sigh*
Publisher's Weekly: Ages 8-12
School Library Journal: Grades 3-7