The One and Only Ivan

Overview

Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal and a #1 New York Times bestseller, this stirring and unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated novel is told from the point of view of Ivan himself.

Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching ...

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The One and Only Ivan

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Overview

Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal and a #1 New York Times bestseller, this stirring and unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated novel is told from the point of view of Ivan himself.

Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.

In the tradition of timeless stories like Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create an unforgettable story of friendship, art, and hope. This paperback edition includes an author's note highlighting the differences between the fictional story and true events, a version of the author's Newbery Medal acceptance speech, Ivan's "signature," discussion questions, and more.

The One and Only Ivan is a strong Common Core title that features these important strands and standards: first-person narrative; author's use of literary devices (personification, imagery); story elements (plot, character development, perspective).

Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“Animal-loving youngsters and their adults will find plenty of food for thought in Ivan’s extraordinary story.”
Patricia MacLachlan
“A beautifully written, intelligent and brave book. You will never look at the relationship of humans and animals in the same way again. Quite simply, this story is life changing.”
Gary D. Schmidt
“The One and Only Ivan will break your heart—and then, against all odds, mend it again. In cheering for Ivan and his friends, we cheer for our own humanity and our own possibilities. Read this.”
Kathi Appelt
“Katherine Applegate’s beautiful, life-affirming story will soar directly from Ivan’s heart into your own. Read it out loud. Read it alone. Read it.”
Shelf Awareness
“Discover an animal hero that will take his place with other courageous and beloved animals such as Babe, Mrs. Frisby, Charlotte and Wilbur. Adults reading this aloud with children will find it just as rewarding.”
The Horn Book
“Important.”
Publishers Weekly
Inspired by a true story, Applegate (Home of the Brave) offers a haunting tale told from the perspective of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who has been confined to a small “domain” of concrete, metal, and glass for 27 years. Joining Ivan at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade are Stella, an aging elephant, and Bob, a feisty stray dog. While other animals perform, Ivan makes art, watches TV, and offers melancholy assessments of their situation. When Ruby, an inquisitive baby elephant, arrives and Stella dies from neglect, her dying wish is for Ivan to help Ruby escape. The brief chapters read like free-verse poetry, the extra line breaks between paragraphs driving home the contrast between Ivan and humans, who in his opinion, “waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.” As is to be expected, there’s significant anthropomorphism, but Applegate is largely successful in creating a protagonist who can understand humans yet feels like a gorilla. Although Ivan’s role in the events leading to their rescue reads as too human, readers will be left rethinking our relationship to animals. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Extraordinary.
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books

Extraordinary.

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Extraordinary.
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
"Some animals live privately, unwatched, but that is not my life." Thus begins the self-told story of Ivan, a silver back gorilla on permanent display at the Big Top Mall, off I-95. He "belongs" to Mack, the down-on-his-luck mall owner. He has a few non-gorilla friends: Stella, an aging, ailing elephant and Bob, a stray dog, are his closest. Ivan prefers to call his cage a domain. It contains a pool of dirty water, a tire swing and lots and lots of hard concrete. One wall is painted to look like a tropical forest. From time to time, Mack turns on a TV for Ivan. But that's not all there is to Ivan. He's an artist. Mack gives Ivan crayons and paper, and his framed creations sell for , but Ivan remembers when he got to finger paint with mud. He also remembers the sound of leaves, the taste of tropical fruit and Tag, his sister who died during their capture. The brightest time in Ivan's life is when the night time janitor, George, brings his daughter, Julia, who visits the gorilla. Just as his life seems set forever, a new friend arrives, a baby elephant named Ruby, who inspires Ivan to view his "home" through new eyes. One night, Julia brings finger paints and paper for Ivan, then calls the local news to tell them about this remarkable artistic gorilla. As the public becomes aware of Ivan and his captive friends, a movement to find Ivan a better home grows. Finally Ivan is lured into a large crate and he is moved again, to a zoo. But will Ivan's life be any better? Will he ever see Rudy, Bob or Julia again? This story is based on a true account of a shopping mall gorilla, which was moved to an Atlanta zoo and became a beloved celebrity with his own gorilla friends/family. This tale is, in turn, horrifying and heartwarming. Applegate captures Ivan's voice well: she writes in short paragraphs, and makes Ivan come alive. 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! Reviewer: Judy Crowder
Kirkus Reviews
How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage. Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human--except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and, rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers' passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout. Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author's note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061992278
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/6/2015
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 934
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 570L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

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 in a Washington State shopping mall before being moved to Zoo Atlanta after a public outcry. He was a beloved celebrity at the zoo, which houses the nation's largest collection of western lowland gorillas. Ivan was well-known for his paintings, which he "signed" with a thumbprint.

Katherine lives in California with her husband and two children.

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