Thursday, May 30, 2024

The One and Only Family

Applegate, K.A. The One and Only Family
May 7, 2024 by HarperCollins 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ivan and Kinyani are settling into a routine life in the wildlife preserve. A hurricane damaged many of the buildings, but the primate enclosure is being enlarged and repaired. When Bob points out that Kinyani has gained some weight, Ivan assumes it is because the two are eating too many mangoes and bananas, but Bob tells him it is because Kinyani is going to have a baby. Ivan takes some time to get used to the idea of being a father, and remembers his home in Africa, his twin, Tag, and other parts of his life. He's not sure how to approach these with a baby, especially since Kinyani doesn't seem to think it's important. She spends lots of time with doctors, and when she is in labor, Ivan is kept away from her on the other side of the glass. It takes a while for him to be allowed to see the twin infants, whom the public names Tuma and Raji. The twins require lots of care, and Ivan learns to deal with this new chapter in his life. 
Strengths: Ivan has always managed to create a "found family" for himself wherever he is, even in the shopping mall, so it's gratifying to see him be able to raise a family of his own along with his mate. The zoo is undergoing some transformation, and seeing that from an animal perspective is interesting. The short, verse-like chapters and the illustrations will make this accessible to younger readers while Ivan's introspection about his lot in life will appeal to older ones as well. The real story of Ivan is very sad, and Applegate's ability to give him a happy, if fictional, ending is appreciated. 
Weaknesses: There's a lot of philosophy in this about memories and parenting, and I'm not sure how much this will resonate with young readers, who will be more interested in the twins antics. 
What I really think: The is an essential conclusion to this series, which includes The One and Only Ivan, The One and Only Bob, and The One and Only Ruby

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