Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

The One and Only Ivan

Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
May 2018
Fred's Rating: 
Total Pages: 
Harper Collins

This unforgettable novel by Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. It is a work of fiction, but the inspiration for this imagined tale lies in a true story. This bestseller received well-deserved awards.

The Amazon website for the paperback edition loaned to me is

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this books' covers at the website above.]

There are other editions but I chose the one above as the best for my review. Be sure to note that this book received a five-star rating from 2,543 customer reviews. Only five-star ratings is something I had not seen before! The top of the home page has an excellent review (click on 'Read more’ to get all of it.) While on the home page, scroll down to the Editorial Reviews to see a list of the awards for this book. I recommend using Amazon’s ‘Look inside’ option for more about this fiction novel – since this gives you the 2012 hardcover edition, click on the Front Flap for a different, more detailed, summary of the animal characters in this book. I recommend you also click on the Back Flap for more info about the author. Scroll down next to see the words of praise on the back cover of the hardcover edition.

Doing all of the above leaves me little more to say about this excellent novel, except that once I had prepared myself for reading it, I couldn’t put it down but had to read it all. What remains then is to tell you what I did to prepare myself for this novel. I had to have a special meditation/contemplation session before reading it. By this I mean, while motionless in my 3 dimensions of space, I had to ‘rewind’ my time dimension to mentally travel back in time more than 50 years when I was of that special age when reading about talking animals meant reading a very special type of book – one in which the animals could talk to each other and also hear what humans said to each other, but the humans couldn’t hear what the animals had to say among themselves. The main character, Ivan the silverback gorilla, had learned the art of painting from watching a special girl who taught him how to finger paint on paper. His simple paintings ‘spoke’ to humans as well as to his animal friends.

I won’t say anything more about these special animals. However, I want to remind people my age about the 1950s comic strip I loved when I was in my teens. It was about Pogo the possum and the swamp world where Pogo and the swamp animals formed a special community where they often met to talk about life in their swamp and about the weird things humans were doing in their human communities. It was my introduction to political humor and satire. What I especially liked was when action was required to return the swamp to its stable and friendly state. A line that Pogo used at times was “We have met the enemy, and it is us.” As satire, this comic strip often implied that humans didn’t seem to come to such a recognition about the problems of their own making.

Had the one and only Ivan known about the swamp people, he would probably have commented that “The problem with humans is that they talk too much.” Ivan and the animal characters is this delightful book had learned to stop and think before they talked to each other. I remember well when I was of preschool age hearing my beloved Grandpa comment about a visitor that “She says more then she thinks.” Back then I had to ask him what he meant, but after he explained his comment to me, I would sometimes use it on him when I found one of his three daughters or my older sister make unthinking comments like that woman did. Grandpa usually laughed heartedly when I used his comment about one of these four females. But sometimes he had to explain to me why I was wrong “this time.” This may be too much about Pogo and me, for Ivan and his friends seldom ever said more than they thought. But now we have an administrator who way too often tweets before thinking about what should be tweeted. I wish we had Pogo's satire back today.

With my mental age reduced to one that loved stories with talking animals and the lives they led in this bestselling book, I greatly enjoyed it. So I definitely agree with the 2,543 customer reviews that this book should get a five-star rating. Read it and enjoy this engaging story.