We are all guilty of walking past a pet store at the mall and looking through dirty glass windows to see a puppy sitting in a pile of shredded newspapers and filth before deciding to dismiss it.

As the main character in Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan says, “The glass says you are this and we are that and that is how it will always be”.

We tell ourselves “they’re just animals, they’ll find homes soon”. We talk ourselves into a situation less disturbing than the one that lies before us, because after all, we can’t handle one more thing on our plate. We even go so far as to think that for us to meddle would be indecent. So we walk by, the animal looking at our backs, another day in a cold, dirty box.

For those of you who may not understand why we must so ardently advocate for animals, I challenge you, beg you, and encourage you to go out and read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. This book will shake you, break you, and all out wake you up to the realities of the human condition and our inclination to turn a blind eye.

Applegate, however, tells the story of the person who reaches out. If you are like myself, and shy away from Facebook posts about animal welfare issues that display horrific images of animals in pain, then this is your chance to make yourself aware of the suffering humans cast upon the creatures we are called to care for. Applegate is able to address circus animal welfare, captive animal welfare, chosen human ignorance, and harsh animal cruelty with sheer grace. If you want a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be human and what it means to humble yourself before an innocent creature, The One and Only Ivan will open up a new pathway in your heart.

The book is designed for young readers, and written in such a way that allows each sentence to hit you like a ton of bricks waking you up to the realities of our world.

Read The One and Only Ivan. It took me less than an hour to get through the entire book. If you are not in tears by page 230 then read it again until you are.

As Dr. Seuss once said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

The power of one is incredible. It doesn’t take much effort to pay attention to what is going on around you. It only takes the slightest bit of courage to make a difference in another’s life. Do not stay silent. Speak up and stand up for those that cannot speak for themselves. And for the love of humanity and all of the earth’s creatures—read The One and Only Ivan.

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