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The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan

by Katherine Applegate

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,0702962,638 (4.36)98
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: These tender, wistful stories of survival are told from an animal's perspective -- stray pooch, Squirrel, and captured gorilla, Ivan. While humans both help and hinder them during their long struggles, they find hope (and secure homes) in the end.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 322 (next | show all)
Katherine Applegate’s 'The One and Only Ivan' is a cry for animal rights that works on its reader in slow subtle steps. You won't find speeches or pontifications or long lengthy lamentations. Instead, it’s just a gorilla living what life he can, until the day he can't. Thanks to its restraint the book ends up being a gem.

The One and Only Ivan is a work of fiction, but its inspiration lies with a true story. Ivan, a real gorilla, lived at Zoo Atlanta, but on the way to that happy ending, he spent almost three decades living in a small cage as the main attraction of an off-highway food court and video arcade without ever seeing another of his own kind. Ivan shares his life at the Mall with Stella - a mature elephant who is sold to Mack, the Mall owner, after outliving her usefulness as a circus performer. Money is tight at the Mall and business has slowed down. Medication for Stella's injured and infected foot is not a priority. In order to drum up business, Mack acquires a new attraction - a baby elephant named Ruby. Stella slowly succumbs to her injuries, but not before extracting a promise from Ivan that he would look after Ruby and get her to a zoo.

What follows is a shining example of what happens when hope meets action. Ivan has to grow and change in the course of this novel (example - Ivan stops referring to 'his domain' and begins to call his surroundings what they are - a cage). He comes to realize that wishing alone will never change Ruby's destiny and begins to work on a plan, hoping almost against hope that someone with more power and ability will understand what he is trying to do.

It is the temptation of every author to simplify ethics when they write for children. Bad guys are bad, good guys are good. This is particularly true of animal abuse stories. After all, who wants to dig up a heart of gold in a character that kicks puppies? Yet the best books for kids are often the ones that allow for at least a glimpse of the human inside the villain. It is one of the reasons why The One and Only Ivan distinguishes itself. Mack is the villain here, no question about it. You don’t go around hitting baby elephants with sharp objects. But there are depths to Mack as well. He’s a man who really did love Ivan on some level when the gorilla was a baby. Then his wife left him and he started hitting the booze to deal with his financial problems. There are a lot of Mack's in this world and it’s worth knowing you can feel sorry for someone but still hold them accountable for their actions. No matter how bad you feel for Mack, the author never lets you forget that he’s the reason for Ivan, Thelma, and Ruby’s imprisonment.

Throughout the book, the author treats us to a lovely use of language. A seal has a “voice like the throaty bark of a dog chained outside on a cold night.” “Humans always smell odd when change is in the air. Like rotten meat with a hint of papaya.” “Human babies are an ugly lot. But their eyes are like our babies’ eyes. Too big for their faces, and for the world.” And a mop, “moves across the empty food court like a giant brush, painting a picture no one will ever see.”

An excellent story with a wonderful use of the written word. It's a match made in literary heaven. ( )
  EvelynBernard | Sep 13, 2018 |
This was a fantastic book! Heartbreaking and heartwarming story. How does a gorilla in captivity help an elephant in captivity? Will they both find happiness?
I laughed and cried. ( )
  cubsfan3410 | Sep 1, 2018 |
The only problem I had with this book was that it was hard to read aloud to the kiddos when I was tearing up on every other page. Such a great story - such beautiful characters. Perfection.

Sophia rating - 4/5
David rating - 5/5
Mommy rating - 5/5 ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Aug 25, 2018 |
This is an excellent book about friendship and sacrifice. The chapters are really short, so I can read each chapter quickly and when I'm in a rush. Even though Ivan is a gorilla, I can relate to him because he is lonely sometimes and also wants to do the right thing. He is a good friend, and while I was reading the book, I wanted to help him. ( )
  tifhuy | Jul 24, 2018 |
This book is based upon the true story of Ivan, a gorilla, that spent almost 30 years alone in a cage in a mall in Washington state. The story is told from Ivan's point of view about how lonely it is to be in a cage by yourself for so many years. Ivan does have friends though, including a dog, an elephant, and a little girl. However, he has no gorilla companion. The story is told so well that it grabs the readers emotions and doesn't let go.
  DuffyBL | Jul 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 322 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Applegateprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baldinucci, LoredanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is never too late to be

what you might have been.

--George Eliot
for Julia
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I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It's not as easy as it looks.
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Book description
--from the book summary

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061992259, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.

» see all 4 descriptions

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