The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate… if you haven’t read this book, you need to. There’s so much to say about this book. First, I love this book so much that after borrowing it from the library and reading it to my kids, I had to buy our own copy when it showed up in a Scholastic book order. The One and Only Ivan is inspired by the true story of a gorilla named Ivan living in a shopping mall, but the book is creatively and beautifully told from Ivan’s perspective. Ivan lives behind glass in a mall, along with some other animal friends, pretty content to spend his days watching tv and the humans that watch him. Things change for Ivan when a baby elephant is brought to the mall to attract more people. This story really sucks you in. The genius writing makes it easy to imagine that these are actually the thoughts of a gorilla. It really makes you feel like you’re experiencing life through Ivan’s eyes. It allowed my kids to see how things could be viewed very differently from another perspective. Things that are normal to us seem weird to a gorilla. Humans are hard to understand. And some things seem more complicated or simple through his eyes. You really get invested in the story and feel the struggles and pain Ivan goes through. But it only makes you root harder for him and feel even happier when things go well. This book is a page turner that was hard for us to put down. There were some very emotionally intense parts and it’s easy to get swept up in the emotional pain the characters experience. The animals are not treated well and that is something to consider when deciding if this book is appropriate for your family. But it inspired some deep conversations that I am grateful for. I loved the empathy and view point the story gave to my kids. And they loved it just as much as I did (I know by how they begged for me to keep reading). Katherine Applegate did an amazing job on this book with a story and characters that made it hard to put down.