The One and Only Ivan

Ivan is a gorilla of few, but well-chosen, words. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he’s used to us peering at him through the glass – but make no mistake, he’s been watching us too. In my size humans see a test of themselves. They hear fighting words on the wind, when all I’m thinking is how the late-day sun reminds me of a ripe nectarine.’ But Ivan’s thoughtful life of resignation abruptly changes, with the imminent arrival of a baby elephant. His elderly elephant companion, injured by cruelty in captivity, asks him to ensure the baby doesn’t suffer her own fate. Katherine Applegate’s powerful story is inspired by a real Ivan; she explains: I wanted to give him someone to protect, and the chance to be the mighty silverback he was always meant to be.’ Expect tears before bedtime – but they may well be your own!

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