A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lots of information about zoo animals, including sanctuaries like the one where Ivan and Ruby live, and what the various animals need to thrive and be happy. Also lots about different types of dogs and their special skills, and weather systems that bring hurricanes and tornados.
Strong messages of kindness, family, friendship, and forgiving yourself for things in the past that you wish you'd done differently. Also of finding unexpected courage and doing the brave thing in a critical moment.
Positive Role Models
Bob overcomes the trauma and tragedy of his past -- and the cynicism it left him with -- when his friends and family are in danger, rises to the occasion in a burst of courage, and comes to appreciate the humans who love him. He, Ivan, and Ruby the little elephant delight in one another's company and look out for each other. A family of elephants works together to save a baby gorilla from drowning. Julia, the little girl who adopted Bob after Book 1, is kind, patient, and resourceful. While there are several nameless, faceless humans who are lethally cruel to animals, there are many others who are kind and go to great lengths to care for them.
Violence & Scariness
There's a lot of traumatic violence, cruelty, and betrayal in the past lives of Ivan, Bob, and other animal characters, from Ivan's captivity in Book 1 and the killing of his sister by poachers to Bob and his littermates being snatched from their mom and thrown from a truck, killing all of them but Bob and, he hopes, his sister. In the wake of a tornado, Ivan is buried under a pile of rubble and feared dead, and Bob is taken captive by an animal shelter worker with a catchpole. A puppy is stranded in a storm and in danger of drowning. Fortunately, there are a lot of kind people in the story trying to make things better.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Bob's sister says she's had several litters of puppies while out on her own. Ivan has a girlfriend who nags him a lot.
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Since the narrator is a dog, there's quite a lot of discussion of poop, pee, and the important information to be gleaned from smells thereof.
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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.
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."
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