The Deal: Ivan is a gorilla, a Mighty Silverback to be exact, and he lives at the Exit 8 Big top mall, and for the most part he doesn't mind. He's used to humans staring at him and making faces, and he spends most of his days just watching an old TV in his domain (he likes Westerns) and keeping company with Bob, a small stray dog who sleeps in his domain, and Stella, an aging circus elephant.
Ivan doesn't like to think about what his life was before the Mall, when he and his twin sister clung to their mother in the wild, when his father kept them safe. But he does like to think about Art, for Ivan has the soul of an artist and he always tries to capture the things around him.
Ivan's life gets shaken up with the arrival of Ruby, a baby elephant who has been taken from her family and who makes Ivan see the world around them with new eyes.
My Thoughts: The One and Only Ivan is excellent.
I would be pretty happy just leaving it at that, but I'm pretty sure you want me to elaborate ( ;) ). Told entirely from the perspective of Ivan, in short but thoughtful chapters (and illustrations), this story broke my heart wide open. Ivan's voice is gentle but determined, and he was just such a lovely soul. I loved him from the start, and that love only grew as I learned more and more about his history.
I loved his relationship with Stella and Bob and Ruby, and with Julia (the little girl who is always giving him crayons and paper so he can do his art, and whose dad works at the mall).
Totally recommend this book, if you're an animal lover this is a book for you, if you're not an animal lover, this is still a terrific story and great if you want something to read with kids. It was the first book I finished this year, but it was a good one, it made me cry first because I was sad, and them because I was so happy.