Alright, Applegate, this is a vast improvement over the previous sequel to The One and Only Ivan. A small part of me wondered if they intentionally avoided mentioning The One and Only Bob on the cover, instead simply referring to it only as a sequel to The One and Only Ivan because the second book was not on par with the first, but I appear to be in the minority on that (based upon Goodreads reviews at least). But is it a fair fight when this one has a cute, baby elephant as the main character, with all the built-in stakes that come with having lived as an elephant with other elephants? I guess the same could be said for comparing the first and second book. I get us humans love dogs, they’re “man’s best friend” and all that mess, but the lives of gorillas and elephants are, by their very nature (pun intended), more dramatic. That’s not to say you can’t milk a good story out of a dog, like Garth Stein did with The Art of Racing in the Rain, but half the work’s done for you already when you start with a gorilla or an elephant, I’d venture to say. Especially if it’s a cute one, ala Dumbo. It’s already proven we love them.
Is The One and Only Ruby sort of paint-by-the-numbers? Kind of, yeah. Are the characters and their story still cute and touching? Yeah. I’m not gonna lie and say I’m not a simple man who’s easily won over by stories such as this, and I assume so are many others, kids and adults alike, hence the popularity. Per Goodreads, it’s the top-rated book in the series thus far. That’s not surprising because, as I said, baby elephant. So, in short, if you want a simple story that doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, but continues the story of the characters from the first two books, including plenty of adorable elephant hijinks, The One and Only Ruby is for you. I give it five stars simply because it does what it sets out to do so well, even if that’s nothing extraordinary.
P.S. I guess this series concludes with The One and Only Family later this year in May. I’ve not kept a close eye on the series, to be honest, only catching the second and third book by chance at Target and impulse buying them due to my love for the first book. With this one, I almost didn’t buy it, saying to myself something along the lines of “it’ll probably disappoint me too, but yolo.” Here’s to hoping the conclusion is mostly in line with the first and third book, not the second.