The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
I didn’t expect to like this because most of the people who have talked about it generally mention sobbing. And I’m not often fond of anthropomorphic books. And somehow I thought it was written in verse but it isn’t- though the paragraphs and chapters are quite short. So I came to this book with low expectations.
I’m pleased to say that it was better than anticipated. I liked the voices, and the animals were not very smarmy and only intermittently too human-sounding. The story arc was fairly predictable but satisfying. I didn’t love it, but I suffered less reading it than I anticipated.
Wesley the Owl
by Stacey O’Brien
I loved the premise inherent in the subtitle, “The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl” and the blurb sucked me in. I checked out the audio version from my library and found the narrator’s voice to be pleasant enough. I was immediately sucked in to the story, only to be spat out again in relatively short order. For someone who works in a lab full of owls, the author seemed unduly surprised about some of the basic facts regarding their characteristics. I have never lived with an owl, so everything I say about this book is from a standpoint of profound ignorance. I really felt like O’Brien anthropomorphized Wesley- not so much when she ascribed reason to him, but more when she talked about his feelings and emotions. Also, the fact that she called herself ‘Mommy’ when talking to him was nausea-inducing. The writing was not even unexceptional, it was flat out bad. The story meandered all over and was full of discursive asides (which, to be fair, were for me the most interesting bits). I wanted to like this. I expected to like this. I hated it, from about the 3rd chapter on.