The One and Only Ivan: Book summary and reviews of The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan

by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate X
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2012
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he's seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it's up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan's unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

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Book Awards

  • award image The John Newbery Medal, 2013

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Inspired by a true story, Applegate (Home of the Brave) offers a haunting tale ...readers will be left rethinking our relationship to animals." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. The characters will capture readers' hearts and never let go. A must-have." - School Library Journal

"No young reader who experiences this book will look at a zoo animal the same again. Castelao's illustrations add a winsome charm. Well done!" - Children's Literature

"Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author's note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates." - Kirkus Reviews

"Beautifully written, intelligent, and brave book…Quite simply, this story is life-changing."- Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medalist, Sarah, Plain and Tall

"The One and Only Ivan will break your heart--and then, against all odds, mend it again." - Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor author of The Wednesday Wars

"Kindness and its ability to change lives shines through on every single page of this book." - Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath

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Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Hailey

awesome
Amazing is all I can say, very detailed in every way.

Madi Lavin

Love
This book taught me to be compassionate.

SandraH

A wonderful Book for Middle-grade Children
Ivan is a silverback gorilla who has lived most of his life in a cage. He narrates the story. Through Ivan, an elephant named Stella, a stray dog named Bob and a young girl named Julie and a baby elephant named Ruby we learn what it must be like for animals to be captured and caged and even trained to do "do tricks" to live. Ivan narrates the story and we learn how he went from life in the wild with his "family" to being a pet and finally being used as a draw in a mall designed to bring in people.

Through these characters, Applegate helps readers understand and empathize with animals who are misused by them.


Applegate doesn't preach instead letting her characters tell their stories.

Whether a child reads this book or an adult reads it to children, this is a book worth getting.

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Author Information

Katherine Applegate

Katherine Applegate's many books include the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter book series, the picture book The Buffalo Storm, and the award-winning novel Home of the Brave. With her husband, Michael Grant, she wrote the hugely popular series Animorphs, which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.

Katherine was inspired to write The One and Only Ivan after reading about the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The real Ivan lived alone in a tiny cage for twenty-seven years at a shopping mall before being moved to Zoo Atlanta after a public outcry. He is now a beloved celebrity at the zoo, which houses the nation's largest collection of western lowland gorillas. Ivan is well known for his paintings, which he "signs" with a thumb-print.

Katherine lives in California with her husband and two children.

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