A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The One and Only Bob is a continuation of the story that began with Katherine Applegate's 2013 Newbery Award recipient The One and Only Ivan. Like Book 1, this one takes its vulnerable characters (and readers) through physically and mentally cruel conditions en route to a heartwarming conclusion. Bob (a dog, who serves as narrator), Ivan (a gorilla), and baby elephant Ruby have a strong bond born in Book 1 that's a big part of this story, which involves a tornado striking the animal sanctuary where Ivan and Ruby live. Also important is Bob's search for his long-lost sister, who he thinks may have survived the incident that killed their littermates, when they were snatched from their mom and thrown from a truck window. There are mentions of Ivan's former captivity and poachers killing his sister. Bob is taken captive by an animal shelter worker with a catchpole (a tool to snare or restrain an animal). And in the wake of the tornado, Ivan is buried under a pile of rubble and feared dead. The One and Only Bob is an inspiring, endearing, cheer-worthy story, but there are recollections or incidents of trauma and violence that could be troubling to sensitive readers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE ONE AND ONLY BOB, aka the scruffy little dog befriended by Ivan the artistic gorilla in The One and Only Ivan, has a pretty good life in the wake of Book 1's events. He's been adopted by Julia, the little girl who played a big role in freeing Ivan from the horrid roadside zoo. Ivan and Ruby the baby elephant now live in a sanctuary with others of their species, cared for by Julia's dad, and Bob gets to visit them all the time. But Bob, traumatized by his previous hard life, doesn't really trust it all, and he's troubled by a nagging sense that his sister survived the incident that killed the rest of his siblings, and is still out there. In the chaos as a tornado strikes the town where they all live, Bob makes a break for freedom and sets out to find her.
Is it any good?
Katherine Applegate's compelling, ultimately uplifting tale, told by a snarky, formerly abused dog who's still confused about it all, takes Ivan the gorilla and his friends to new adventures. Animal-loving kids in particular will relate to Julia, who's adopted Bob the dog and does her best to give him a happy life. And they'll love the quality time with Ivan (now happily living in a sanctuary), Ruby, and the many other friends of The One and Only Bob. As in The One and Only Ivan, Applegate pulls few punches in describing the physical and emotional cruelty of humans to animals and its traumatic, sometimes deadly impact -- and also introduces plenty of kind humans who know better and act that way.
Sensitive readers may have trouble with passages like this one, where Bob recalls the aftermath of being ripped from his mother and thrown with his littermates from a truck window:
"Being man's best friend can mean a lot of things. Companionship. Belly rubs. Tennis balls.
"But it can also mean a dark, endless highway and an open truck window.
"It can mean the smell of the wet wind as hands grab the box you're in with your brothers and sisters and you go sailing into the unkind night and still, still, crazy as it sounds, you're thinking, But I'm yours, I'm yours, I'm yours."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stories narrated by dogs, and how they see the world. How does The One an Only Bob compare with other dog "autobiographies" you've read, and how does Bob's life compare with the ones described in those stories.
The One and Only Bob offers plentiful examples of people being cruel to animals, and vividly describes how it feels to be on the receiving end. It also features many people being kind and supportive, even heroic, in protecting the animals. Do you come away from the story with more empathy for those being abused, animals and humans? Does it give you any ideas for ways you might help protect them?
Have you visited a wildlife park where animals like Ivan and Ruby can live in natural habitats instead of cages? What did you find most interesting -- or surprising -- about it?
- Author: Katherine Applegate
- Illustrator: Patricia Castelao
- Genre: Animals
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
- Publication date: May 5, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 18, 2020
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