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The One and Only Ivan, By Katherine Applegate

Ivan is a silverback gorilla who lives in a shoddy mall zoo. His best friend, Stella, an elephant dies while she is in captivity with him. Before she dies, she makes him promise to save Ruby, the baby elephant bought to revive the prospects of the owner of the mall. Ivan’s voice is understated (as opposed to exaggerated) allowing the reader to fill in the emotional swells. But even more amazing was the consistent way in which Applegate uses Ivan’s perspective to describe the things he sees or experiences:

“She makes a happy, lilting sound, an elephant lie. It’s like the song of a bird I recall from long ago, a tiny yellow bird with a voice like dancing water.”


“I like the sundown colors, red and purple.”


“The humans stop eating their popcorn. They coo. They clap. Ruby is a hit. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad.”

If you don’t feel right about reading this by yourself as an adult, grab a kid and read it to them.  Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. SAO
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 04:57:47

    Cats were domesticated because they are so efficient at killing small animals, like mice and rats. I adopted a semi-feral kitten which I tried to make into a house cat (did not work out well, I don’t advise adopting feral cats with the idea they will become house cats). She was a phenomenal hunter and always wanted to be outside, where the little tasty beasties were.

  2. Liz H.
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 06:19:58

    The credit card article missed two important points.
    -The surcharges are illegal in 10 states- California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.
    -The merchant must notify you that they are charging a surcharge, and how much it is, before you pay, and on the receipt. Failure to do so is illegal.

    Finally, I am less clear on this, so if anyone has a deeper understanding, please correct me- the surcharge amount is limited to what the credit card company charges the merchant; this is 4% maximum, but could be less. However, there is no way for the consumer to know what this amount is, to determine whether they are being charged correctly. (Charging 3% when they should be charging 1% or 2% will add up quickly.)

  3. Patricia Eimer
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 06:33:10

    Cats are just doing what nature intended for them. I used to have one that even with a bell could still manage to hunt and she really did think she was helping the family out with her kills. When I was pregnant she used to take great pride in bringing me fresh meat– usually baby moles– and could never understand why I wasn’t excited at the prospect of still living rodent. She ate those suckers with relish. Apparently rodent is always better than fancy feast.

  4. Stacie Mc
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 06:42:05

    Cats are supposed to kill off small animals. When the Pope declared cats minions of Satan in the 13th century cats were exterminated in such large numbers that the cat population in Europe was drastically reduced over the next hundred years. All of those excess flea bearing birds and rodents led to the Black Plague. Predatory species have a purpose and messing with the balance is not usually a good thing.

  5. DS
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 07:03:50

    I’m not keen on the cats killing baby mice but do appreciate that they keep the rodent population down. You have not lived until you opened an old file box and discovered a mouse has chewed up a bunch of old flimseys and made a nest. The only other thing that the cats catch are the blue tailed skinks that live in the flower beds. But all they usually catch are the tails which twitch spasmodically to the cat’s delight while the lizard skuttles off.

    I’ll be interested in seeing what happens with the credit card surcharge. I know merchants who would be panicked if they had to go back to dealing with a lot of cash and checks again, as they probably would if they added a surcharge. There’s also a psychological advantage to the seller when the buyer puts a purchase on a card over writing out a check or counting out money. Buyers are more reckless when it comes to spending.

  6. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 07:39:04

    A savvy cat can neutralise that bell – ours used to tuck his head down enough to muffle it until he could wrench it off. He rarely went more than a day with a new bell and then he’d get his revenge later.
    When we Brits come over to the States, we have a 2.7% foreign currency surcharge on anything we buy with a credit card. I have a Zero card, which has frightening interest but no extra fees (the trick is always to pay that sucker off on time) but they’re discontinuing it, so I need to track down another one. I avoid credit cards when I’m abroad, but sometimes, like hotel bills, you don’t have much choice. When I booked my international flight for the US this month, they wanted to charge me £10 extra for credit card processing. I said do it, and I go elsewhere. But if they all start doing it, we won’t have much choice.

  7. Lisa J
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 08:13:51

    Cats aren’t the only pets hunting out there. My Husky/Lab mix has never met a bunny he can’t catch (FYI – bunnies are not cute when they are half eaten). He has also managed to get himself a few birds (robins, barn swallows, and blackbirds are favorites). I almost prefer the birds to the rabbits, since he always gets a bad case of fleas from the bunnies and I have to watch him for worms. The only positive, he knows I throw his kills over the fence where he can’t reach them, so he doesn’t bring them to me for approval.

  8. Karenmc
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 09:27:33

    A live mole, loose in the house in the middle of the night. This happened three separate times with one of my cats. Also, headless squirrel corpses under the dining room table. And once, a very large, very p-o’d blackbird on the bathroom floor (the removal of which required the help of a male friend wearing thick gloves).

    Of course, my late dog was no slouch. Over four or five years she proudly brought me seven dead squirrels. This ended only when she’d killed all the squirrels dumb enough to be wandering around on the ground.

  9. RowanS
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 10:13:53

    The solution to the cat issue is to keep the little darlings indoors. The average life expectancy for an indoor cat is 14 years – for an outdoor cat, 18 months. Plus there’s the exposure to sick cats (feline leukemia is highly contagious, among other things) and the lovely flea issues…
    Not that I have to worry about mousies. My cat is terrified of them. Oh, wait. Yeah, I do, since they seem to have moved in this winter…

  10. Moriah Jovan
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 10:25:57

    Yanno, I wish MY cats would exhibit some of these mythical killing-machine traits. Moochers.

  11. LG
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 10:32:52

    @RowanS: Plus all the other things that can kill, sicken, or hurt outdoor or partly outdoor cats. We had a neighbor whose cat was repeatedly ill, and they found out the culprit was his habit of eating out of the dumpster. Unfortunately, although they tried to keep him completely indoors after that discovery, he was so used to being able to go outdoors that he slipped out whenever he found even the smallest opportunity to do so. His garbage eating habit eventually killed him. It’s one of the reasons why I encourage anyone I know who has just gotten a new pet kitten NOT to let them outside even once. It’s easier to convince them that going outside is not an option if you never, ever make exceptions to that rule. Of course, it can be an uphill battle if you adopt an older cat.

  12. Brie
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 10:41:50

    This talk about cats being evil killing machines has this particular cat looking worried:

  13. Lada
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 10:56:46

    @Moriah Jovan: Exactly. My felines are domesticated dumbos that don’t know what to do with a bug or bird except stare intensely as it wanders off.

  14. Dhympna
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 11:13:43

    @Stacie Mc:

    There is no legit/credible evidence that Gregory IX ever issued such an order (exterminate cats) and given the geographical origins of the pandemic– cat (if indeed such a thing occurred) extermination had nothing to do with the spread or origins of the plague.

    Actually, the false belief about Gregory probably stems from a contemporaneous misinterpretation of one of the bulls he issued regarding heretics.

  15. Sunny
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 11:38:51

    Both of my cats are rescues. One is a terribly efficient hunter, to the peril of pet birds, rodents and uh, my late hermit crabs. Whoops. The other used to bring me live baby mice from the woodroom on the farm, and had no idea what to do with the blind squirmy things. Sigh. When she got up to hopper size I had to close off that room, because there are few things less pleasant than trying to trap a young bouncy mouse under a wastepaper can at 3am. If the mice want to live in the woodpiles, that’s fine, the other cat keeps them from the rest of the house (and eats the whole thing… we go through a lot of worming meds).

    They’re both indoor cats, despite the one living outside for several months as a kitten (she was caught in a live trap, but she was never feral so someone loved her early on)… they know this is where the fireplace is, and the food that doesn’t try to run away. The only time I ever encourage them to try going outside is when it’s pouring rain, if they ever start trying to rush the door… that cures them for another year.

  16. SAO
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 11:44:41

    @Lynne Connolly

    You’re banking with the wrong bank. I’ve lived in 4 different countries and travel a lot and I’ve never had a currency surcharge, since I started my international life. My experience is that credit cards are a better bet because they aren’t usually making money off the exchange rate. In fact, you may find that the spread on currency you exchange is more or less equal to the 2.7% charge.

  17. Janine
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 11:51:31

    Re credit card “checkout fee” surcharges, according to this Yahoo article, it does NOT apply in the following ten states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.

  18. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 12:19:04

    @SAO: There are three places you can get credit cards in the UK that don’t charge a currency surcharge – Santander (this is now not available to new customers), the Post Office and the Halifax. All credit cards drawn elsewhere charge 2.7 to 3%. Ask them. I have.
    It’s called a “credit card currency conversion fee” and it’s iniquitous. You might not even know you’re paying it. If you use a cash machine in the US using a UK credit card, the same charge applies. And don’t forget the lower exchange rate they regularly charge.
    Luckily, I have a Citibank account, and that being a US bank, as long as I tell them before I go, I’m not charged for cash withdrawals.

  19. Kim in Hawaii
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 12:39:06

    We are a cat loving family. Strays seem to find us. Or should I say abandoned cats find us. We “adopted” a gorgeous Chartreux on Fort Meade and named him Lucky. He always ran to the house when he spotted my husband drive home from work. Lucky would stay inside for the night and ask to be let out at 5 am so he could begin his daily hunt. He brought us many gifts, stared down foxes, and even challenged deer.

    As we prepared to move to Hawaii, I gave Lucky to a friend who could offer him outdoor access. One week before our flight, my friend called to say that Lucky was miserable without us. As I drove Lucky home, I told him that his outdoor days were over. We have been in Hawaii for three years and he has acclimated to indoor living. My neighbors have mice and roaches … but I do not! The smell of cats keep them away!

  20. leslie
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 14:37:41

    @Kim in Hawaii: Did Lucky spend 6 months in quarantine?

  21. Kim in Hawaii
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 14:51:08

    @leslie: Hawaii offers a “no quarantine” that requires owners to test pets’ blood six months before arrival. Upon arrival, a vet examines all incoming pets before release to owners (the military pays for up to two pets in this program). I tested all of our cats, just in case I didn’t find homes for them. Since Lucky’s paperwork was good to go, he came with us! This program protects the islands from rabies and applies to all, including President Obama. You may recall that Senator Kennedy gave “Bo” to the Obama family. He did not accompany the Obamas to Hawaii for his first Christmas as he had not completed the “no quarantine” program (I wonder which staffer failed to inquiry about the program!) The Obamas learned from this experience and Bo is now a regular visitor to Hawaii.

  22. leslie
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 16:24:21

    @Kim in Hawaii: That’s great to know. Mahalo.

  23. Jody W.
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 17:10:39

    Go, Cat, go!

  24. Ann Bruce
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 21:08:37

    @Lynne Connolly: Check if Chase has a subsidiary in the UK. It offers several cards in both Canada and the US that don’t charge foreign exchange fees, but I’m not familiar with its operations outside of North America.

    As for cats that kill? The Oatmeal’s graphic is much more entertaining.

  25. SAO
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 22:25:00


    Of course we used our UK cards in the UK. We’ve always paid close attention to the exchange rate our bank is giving us between the currency of the country we are living in and the US, we aren’t as careful with exchange rates at vacation destinations.

  26. Blossom
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 00:25:42

    The first time my cats saw a real live mouse last year they ran and hid. They left me with the dirty work of getting rid of it and only then did they come out of hiding. I guess not all Cats have the hunting gene. lol

  27. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 06:47:41

    @Ann Bruce: Definitely will do that, thank you! The bank charges drive me nuts. They have our money, invest it and make a fortune, or they used to, then they charge us for the privilege!

  28. cleo
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 11:02:23

    I think I’m going to LOVE the new advanced search feature – because you know, I don’t have enough productivity sucks in my life as it is.

    It’s funny to me to think of cats as an invasive species in the US, but they are. My husband taught environmental science years ago and had all sorts of horrific stats about the number of song birds killed by cats annually.

    Our two rescue cats are indoor cats – the one time a mouse wandered into our home, they just played with it until the poor thing died of terror.

  29. leslie
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 11:25:58

    @cleo: Where I live it’s not the cats, but the friggin crows that are killing all the songbirds. They are a menance.

  30. cleo
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 13:26:12

    @leslie: Ok, I have to know more. How do cows kill songbirds?

  31. cleo
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 16:39:25

    @cleo: Ok, now I see that I misread that – I can understand CROWS killing songbirds.

  32. HelenK
    Feb 02, 2013 @ 11:00:30

    @cleo: LOL I totally read it as cows killing songbirds too! I had all sorts of mental pictures trying to figure it out when I read your correction to what you read. Whew! Thanks for that.

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