In Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan, the story is told by Ivan, a silverback gorilla who is the main attraction at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. Ivan doesn’t miss the jungle much, not since Mack gave him a TV and showed him how to create art inside his “habitat.” Ivan also has lots of friends—Stella, the elephant who lives next to him; Bob, the stray dog who sleeps on Ivan’s belly at night; and George, who brings his daughter Julia each night when he cleans the mall. Ivan is content—that is, until a new baby elephant is brought to the mall, and changes forever the way Ivan thinks about the cages in which they all live.

The One and Only Ivan is a simple story whose power lies in the raw, unchecked emotions that pour from Ivan, Bob, Stella and Ruby, the new baby elephant. It is both heartbreaking and uplifting to journey along with Ivan as he attempts, for the first time, to venture outside the safety of his cage.

This brave, moving story is perfect for anyone who loves animals and has ever wondered what they think about life inside a cage.

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