Here comes the best book I have ever read: The One and Only Ivan by Kathrine Applegate (2012) If you read this book report I am sure you will run into the library and get this book!
The One and Only Ivan is a the most emotional and moving book I have read .There are two main themes in the book. One is friendship between animals and humans and the other one is captivity of animals. It has a lot of exciting scenes, but also a lot of extremely sad scenes. .
Ivan is an easygoing gorilla living in a small cage at a shopping mall for nearly his whole life. He is used to people watching him through the glass walls and constantly spends his days watching TV, eating bananas and painting pictures. His pictures were sold by the owner of the mall, Mack. His best friends are Stella, an elephant and Bob, a stray dog, that live in a cage next to him.
When Ruby, a baby elephant, is brought to the Big Top Mall and Stella’s old injury gets worse, things begin to change. Just before Stella dies Ivan promises her to take care of Ruby and help her to live a better life. When he sees how the owner of the mall abuses Ruby and punishes her with a stick to do the best tricks in the show, his opinion of humans and the life in the mall changes. In his eyes it is not satisfactory any more. He wants Ruby to be raised with other elephants in a natural habitat. He wants her to escape the glass cage. He wants to end his own sad and commercial life in the mall. Ivan developed a plan to keep his promise. He started painting a lot of pictures that can be put together like a puzzle and that drew attention to Ruby.
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Finally George, the mall custodian and his daughter Julia solved the puzzle and published Ivan’s artwork outside of the mall. The visitors of the mall began to ask questions, journalists came to the mall and began to look behind the scenes. They began a protest and at the end Ivan and his animal friends were taken away to a zoo. There they started a new life among other animals. After you just got an impression of the whole book, you will now read about a specific character, that I found interesting because I finally saw how many different sides a person can have. I mentioned Mack before, he is the owner of the mall. Mack is interesting, because his character has multiple sides and is much deeper than you think at first.
My first impression after reading the book was that Mack is generally a bad, selfish and greedy man who does not treat his animals with respect. He kept Ivan in a cage for 27 years (p. 144). He exploited Ivan by asking him to paint to make money. He also seems to be careless about his animals. He punishes Ruby with a claw stick to improve some tricks (p. 151). Another example for this carelessness is when he does not pay for an urgent vet visit for Stella, which is why she eventually must die.
However, Mack also has a very different side. For example, he shows kindness, when he talks to George about his family situation. Mack takes out some money, gives it to George and says, “…buy the kid some more crayons” (p. 50). He also seems to truly love Ivan. At the beginning he treated Ivan very humanely. He gave him presents for his birthday (p. 7) and allowed Ivan to paint for pleasure (p. 38). When Ivan smashed a window with his baseball gear, Mack only took away his bat, but allowed him to keep his ball. On the day before Ivan leaves, Mack seems to be very sad. He is described as looking smaller and carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders (p. 254). He also goes to Ivan’s cage and says, “I am going to miss you Ivan. ” (p. 256).
All in all I think that these arguments show that Mack is not a simple character. It seems as if he first truly loved Ivan and it is only after his business is failing and less people come to see the animals, he shows another side. Only then he starts caring about money so much and being really selfish. To me it seems as if he actually wished he could have provided a better life for Ivan - I think he wanted Ivan to be The One and Only Ivan.
At the end of the book there is one scene that stands out for me. Whenever I read this one scene, and I did it quite often, I am tense and nervous. I feel like I am Ivan myself. Ivan is already in the zoo. The zookeeper Maya tries to socialise him with other apes by showing him TV recordings and finally opens the door to the outside, where the other gorillas live in their natural environment. The first time Ivan was too scared to leave his cage, but on page 276 the door opens a second time. Ivan walks outside. He feels the blowing wind, he sees the fresh grass, he smelled the rain, he hears the birds singing, he tastes the freedom. I am always overwhelmed with the description of these impressions. Because Katherine Applegate wrote Ivan’s impressions word by word, they feel so intense to me. A picture of Ivan sitting outside of his cage, astonished about all the new things around him, develops in my head. Writing the direct thoughts and words from people and animals is the typical writing style in the book. The author writes in small paragraphs so there is enough space to think about the written.
The One and Only Ivan is a very versatile and emotional book. From cover to cover it is filled with moments that make me laugh, scare me and make me sad. Read it and I bet you will feel the same!
Have fun reading this amazing book
The book even won the golden John Newbery medal because it's so good!