The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate fulfills the “Based on a True Story” category of the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge.
Yes, another choice from the Kids’ Section. There will be a few more. Sometimes you have to read a YA or Children’s book to give your life perspective or to add some happy into your universe. Since romance novels don’t fit into many of the PopSugar categories, I had to find my Happily Ever After somewhere. And spoilers, this one as an HEA.
The One and Only Ivan is told from the point of view of Ivan, a 20-something silverback who lives in a mall. He’s wonderful. The voice of the story absolutely sounds male and gorilla-ish. The author perfectly depicts Ivan’s character—his thoughts, his wants, his needs, his heart. If my daughters were small, I’d totally read this book aloud to them. In an ape-like voice.
When the story opened in a shopping plaza zoo (shudder), I knew we were in for some serious emotional moments. And damn the book made me cry several times. But I tend to be a total mush. More spoilers, maybe don’t read it to really young kids. Death is a catalyst in the story.
Ivan decides he wants a better life for himself and the other animals. He starts a project to get everyone into a real zoo. Though the mall critters (and the little dog too) are all anthropomorphized, the action still seemed realistic. The inability to communicate their needs to the humans plays at the heart of the story. The animals tell them over and over by their actions what they require. Almost every human fails to help because they are so caught up in their own needs.
By the end of the book, I was cheering that everyone finally understood each other. It made me consider about how we as humans miscommunicate to each other on a daily basis. Considering the depth and breadth of our language, you’d think we could all see the same picture. But we all look at the world through our own colored lens and that makes the human race both beautiful and selfish.
Again, I’ll point back to the amazing book The Sparrow by Mary Doyle Russell and the concept of alien and seeing the universe through a skewed view. Kids’ books apparently make me very philosophical. Whoda thunk?
If you’re in a mood for a sweet, sappy story, I recommend The One and Only Ivan, five blue crayons.