Just in time for summer, NPR's Backseat Book Club will introduce us to an amazing gorilla. He's the title character in The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
Ivan is a silverback who's the only gorilla living in a shopping mall. Luckily he has friends — an elephant, a dog and a young girl. He enjoys watching TV and painting.
But it's a newcomer — a baby elephant — who spurs Ivan into action and makes him face his own past.
Fictional Ivan was inspired by a real gorilla who lived a similar life, alone in a circus-themed mall. But it's Applegate's imagining of Ivan's own backstory and relationships with the animals in his life that bring this tale alive.