cover image The One and Only Ruby

The One and Only Ruby

Katherine Applegate. HarperCollins, $19.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-308008-9

Lovable baby elephant Ruby is the delightful narrator of this follow-up to The One and Only Bob, which further chronicles the animal’s difficult journey to the wildlife park and sanctuary where she now lives. As the story picks up, Ruby laments that “nobody ever listens to the littlest elephant,” especially concerning her dreaded upcoming Tuskday celebration, a rite of passage that she has no interest in recognizing. Doted on by her adopted elephant “aunts,” and counseled by gorilla Ivan, who lives in a nearby enclosure, and dog Bob, who visits regularly, Ruby is safe and surrounded by loved ones. But an unexpected visit awakens memories both welcome and harrowing, including those making her reluctant to celebrate her tusks. Ruby’s playful yet sage voice traces the events that brought her from her unspecified African savanna home to the mall where she and Ivan previously lived, and, at last, to the sanctuary. With her trademark blend of frankness and hope, Applegate details dire circumstances facing elephants in the wild, including climate change and poaching, while elucidating their fierce loyalty and highlighting, via the three protagonists’ unforgettable bond, myriad interspecies relationships. A concluding author’s note offers further context. Ages 8–12. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (May)