The One and Only Ivan by Kathy Applegate

syndetics-lcIt’s not easy being a gorilla.  Just ask Ivan, who lives at the Big Top Mall.  He once roamed the jungle.  Now he lives in a small cage where he drinks Pepsi, eats old apples, and watches reruns on TV.   The good things in his life are Bob the stray dog, Stella the performing elephant, and his art.  Most days Ivan likes to draw.  His drawings sell for $20 each in the gift shop.  But when he gets tired of drawing, he eats the crayons.

Ivan thinks he will live in the mall for the rest of his life.  Then one day Ruby arrives.  Ruby is an elephant, kidnapped from the wild and brought to the mall to do circus tricks.  The problem is she is just a baby and doesn’t know how to perform.  Suddenly, Ivan sees his life differently.  He has someone to protect and a purpose—finding a new home for Ruby and himself.  Will he be able to use his art to make it happen?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head