"COME TO THE EXIT 8 BIG TOP MALL AND VIDEO ARCADE, HOME OF THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, MIGHTY SILVERBACK!"
That's what the billboard out by I-95 says. It has a ferocious picture of Ivan on it, although Ivan never feels ferocious. He doesn't have anything to be ferocious about, even though he is a mighty silverback. Mack and Stella are on the billboard, too. Mack is dressed like a clown. Stella is dressed like an elephant, because that's what she is.
Ivan lives quietly in his domain, which is a small cage with thick glass on three sides. Sometimes he watches TV and sometimes he draws pictures, but he never plays with gorillas because he's the only one. His best friends are Stella the elephant, Bob the stray dog, and Julie the girl. Mack isn't a friend, really. He's just in charge. Ivan doesn't mind his life too much. Gorillas are philosophic, after all. But after Ruby arrives, Ivan finds himself making promises he's not sure he can keep. After all, what can a gorilla in a cage do to protect a baby elephant from suffering the same fate he's endured his whole life?
Katherine Applegate has written a middle grade fiction that touches the heart and the imagination. Based on the story of a real gorilla with a similar story, Katherine has written Ivan with a voice you'll never forget in this Newbery award winner. Stop by her website and learn about the real Ivan who inspired this book.
Source of review copy: Gail Borden Public Library