The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback is the main attraction at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, conveniently located off I-95. He has lived at the mall in his “domain” for many, many years. He is content with his life with Stella, the old elephant, Bob, the stray dog that sleeps on his tummy, and George and Julia, who clean the mall. Their keeper Mack is not content however. The mall is losing money and no one is coming to visit anymore. So Mack gets Ruby, a baby elephant, to attract more attention. Stella and Ruby are not content in their cage and soon Stella dies. Ivan makes a promise to her that he will save Ruby, but how is a gorilla supposed to do that?
I usually don’t like books written from an animal’s perspective, but there was something about Ivan that really worked. His voice seemed so much his own and not a person speaking for a gorilla. I loved everything about Ivan, especially his relationships with the others. I really enjoyed how Ivan thought about the problem of Ruby and came up with a solution all on his own. Very inventive! This is one of the few Newberrys in recent years that I have really and truly loved. It was definitely worthy of the medal.