The follow up to one of my favorite middle grade books is finally in my hands! I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but this book is just as wonderful as The One and Only Ivan.
Bob sets out on a dangerous journey in search of his long-lost sister with the help of his two best friends, Ivan and Ruby. As a hurricane approaches and time is running out, Bob finds courage he never knew he had and learns the true meaning of friendship and family. from Goodreads.
Like The One and Only Ivan, this story is told from the perspective of an animal and Katherine Applegate perfectly captures the voice of a small rescue dog. A middle grade book about global warming, abandonment, trust issues, forgiveness, family, friendship and the ethics of animal ownership might not sound uplifting but Applegate uses the character’s personal connections to show how each of these issues is easier to bear with a friend.
With all these heavy themes, Bob’s humor and matter-of-fact attitude show up at just the right moments to alleviate tension. And there is a lot of tension in this story! Bob, unlike Ivan, is still trying to figure out who he is and where his place is in the world as he mulls over his past and present actions. He certainly has trust issues and those come to light when Bob is trying to define whether the house he lives with Julia is his home, or just a place his is staying.
I wish that this book had not been marketed as a sequel to The One and Only Ivan but instead a book that takes place in that world. Ivan and Ruby’s stories don’t continue in any forward direction, rather they are the background characters to Bob’s story just as Bob was one in Ivan. Bob himself is very different from Ivan. Where Ivan is pragmatic and eloquent in his determination, Bob second guesses himself and worries about his past decisions. Ivan might be the person we want to become but Bob’s journey feels familiar. And the message of forgiveness, especially forgiving oneself, is as vital as the acknowledgement that perfection is impossible.
Even though this wasn’t the sequel I was hoping for, it was a wonderful adventure with the one, the only, Bob.
Tell me, please!
What middle grade books have surprised you?