Review of The One and Only Ruby

The One and Only Ruby The One and Only Ruby
by Katherine Applegate; illus. by Patricia Castelao
Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    240 pp.
5/23    9780063080089    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780063080102    $12.99

After The One and Only Ivan (rev. 1/12) and The One and Only Bob (rev. 7/20), it’s now young elephant Ruby’s turn to tell her story. Having relocated to a new wildlife park in Florida (with Ivan, the silverback gorilla; and Bob, the wisecracking dog), Ruby has been adopted into a new elephant herd. Tuskday (the “traditional celebration after the arrival of a young elephant’s tusks”) is fast approaching, and she is exceptionally anxious about the rite of passage. Ruby gets an unexpected visitor one day when Jabori, who cared for her in an elephant orphanage in Africa, comes to visit. This joyful reunion provides the impetus for her to share the full story of her traumatic past, beginning with her mother being hunted and killed for her tusks. A conversation with the wise matriarch of the wildlife park’s herd gives Ruby the courage to proceed with the Tuskday celebration. The book features Applegate’s trademark verse-prose; appealing spot illustrations; and the hallmark themes of the series: adversity, trauma, friendship, resilience, and hope. An author’s note discusses the plight of elephants in captivity and the continuing devastation of the ivory trade in the wild.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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