Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

Everybody needs a good rainy day book (especially in Seattle), and I admit that I am often drawn into a bookstore by a book I see in the window.  This happened to me the other day when strolling in beautiful downtown Ballard.  There, in the window of The Secret Garden bookstore, was The One and Only Ivan, and I couldn't resist.

It is a book meant for 8- to 12-year-olds and I'm a bit older than that, but it's a fantastic animal tale based on a true story of a gorilla stuck in a cage in a mall for a very long time before being released from his cage to a zoo.  It is written believably as a gorilla might think, in few words - but words of import.

Ivan is an artist, and has friends in Stella the elephant and Bob, a dog who purportedly likes the "freedom" of homelessness and sleeps every night on Ivan's generous belly.  When a baby elephant, Ruby, is brought in to increase interest in the menagerie, Stella extracts a promise from Ivan that is very hard for him to keep.

Ivan, however, is an honorable gorilla and as a silverback he's bound to be a protector of his family, so he works out a way to keep that promise - with a bit of help from some humans.

This book makes for a quick and very satisfying read.  In its few words it brings every character to poignant life and Ivan, Bob and Ruby will live in your heart for a long time.

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