[The One and Only Ruby]: An ARC Review

Hi y’all!

Can you believe it’s May already? I can’t believe how fast time is flying at the end of the school year. What a great year we’ve had! But am I ready for summer? That’s still up in the air.

Today I am so excited to share my review of The One and Only Ruby by Katherine Applegate. I was so excited to read this novel — finally we get Ruby’s story!! If you haven’t read Ivan, I highly recommend starting there as I think it’s the best of the series. But this one was powerful and heartwarming. I love Ruby!

This is a sequel to the Newbery Medal winning The One and Only Ivan. Another sequel, The One and Only Bob, tells the story of Ivan and Ruby’s friend Bob. Click on the titles to see my reviews of both of these books. Ivan continues to be one of my favorite Newbery Winners that I have read to date.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.
This book releases today, May 2nd 2023!


Book Summary: “From beloved powerhouse author Katherine Applegate comes The One and Only Ruby, starring the adorable baby elephant from the Newbery Medal-winning modern classic The One and Only Ivan and its bestselling sequel, The One and Only Bob.

Ruby’s story picks up a few months after the events of The One and Only Bob. Now living in a wildlife sanctuary, Ruby’s caretaker from the elephant orphanage in Africa where she grew up is visiting. Seeing him again brings back a flood of memories both happy and sad of her life before the circus, and she recounts the time she spent in the African savannah to Ivan and Bob.

In the timeless way that only Katherine Applegate could craft, this highly anticipated novel in verse is the perfect mix of heartfelt and humorous, poignant and sweet. Artist Patricia Castelao returns to the world of Ivan and his friends with gorgeous black-and-white interior illustrations to complete the story.

One of my favorite elements in this series is the writing style, and Applegate continues it in beautiful ways in this book. The short chapters are powerful and full on wisdom. The illustrations of Ruby and her family and friends are so fun too! I think the clever titles of each chapter are great additions as well and sometimes say just as much if not more than the words that follow. This book is a quick read because of this style with fewer words that are very poignant and powerful. The writing is absolutely beautiful! As Ruby shares her story, I could see the different places she lived — walking for water with her mother and herd, drinking from a bottle for the first time, experiencing fear and fire, special moments with Stella in the mall, and grappling with her tusks because of her past. I felt transported to Ruby’s world and experiences.

Ruby is a delightful protagonist and I loved getting to know her better. She was a favorite of mine in the original book so it was really fun to learn about her present and her past. Some of her story is tragic and overwhelming. Other parts are full of joy and friendship. I loved getting her story although I would have liked more details in several parts like what happened to Jarobi after the fire and more interactions with him. I appreciated her conflicting feelings about tusks and Tuskday. I was reminded of how young she is and how much she has had to experience — so many difficult things! But I was so proud of her courage and strength in the end.

I really enjoyed several of the elephant maxims/bits of wisdom especially about having courage, wonder, gratitude, and kindness. The questions that Aunt Stella and then Aunt Akello have Ruby ponder were quite lovely and definitely worth pondering daily for myself too. I love the idea that an elephant needs other elephants to be complete. I think people are a lot like that too. At times, this book felt a bit preachy. I love elephants and certainly want them to to protected and cared for. But sometimes, this novel seemed more about elephant poaching and the drawbacks of living in captivity instead of the friendship and love that made The One and Only Ivan so meaningful and unique. This didn’t take too much away from the story for me. But it made me pause several times and broke the spell of the story for me.

Overall, a fun addition to the Ivan series. If you’ve read Ivan, I think this is definitely worthwhile. Ruby is a lovable character and her resilience and courage are fantastic!


Have you read The One and Only Ivan
What are some of your favorite Newbery winners?


Katherine Applegate is the Newbery Medal-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of numerous books for young readers, including The One and Only Ivan, the Endling series, Crenshaw, Wishtree, the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter books series, and the Animorphs series. She lives with her husband, who writes as the author Michael Grant, and their children in California.

Connect with Katherine:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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