The One and Only Ivan

Written by Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Patricia Castelao

A unique new middle grade novel, The One and Only Ivan is a simple story told from the point of view of the gorilla Ivan, who lives in a glass cage in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan is actually an artist, he draws and fingerpaints pictures which are sold in the mall for $25.00. His best friends are Stella the elephant, and Bob, a stray dog that sneaks into his cage and sleeps on his belly at night. When Ruby, a new baby elephant, comes to the Exit 8 Big Top Mall, Ivan comes to remember his early life in the African jungle, and he develops a plan to find a better home for Ruby (and for himself.)

This book is not quite like any other children’s book I have ever read. I think young readers will thrill to be able to see the world from the point of view of Ivan and identify with him. It is filled with humor dosed with sadness, but it is ultimately hopeful. It is written in many short scenes with a spare, poetic prose that is slightly reminiscent of Kate DiCamillo. This spareness would make it a good choice to recommend to reluctant readers. I highly recommend this book for every elementary library.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Granite District Library Media Program
Rating: (4.5 Stars)
Interest Level: Grades 3-7

The One and Only Ivan
Written by Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Patricia Castelao
305 pages
Release Date: January 17, 2012
ISBN: 9780061992254 (hardcover)

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12 thoughts on “The One and Only Ivan”

  1. Our upper grade teachers are always looking for a good read aloud – this sounds like a great one! It’s fun to show Granite Media to teachers looking for new books.

  2. When I first heard about this book, it caught my interest. I look forward to reading it and sharing it with our students.

  3. I really liked this book. It was a cute and heart tugging story. It is a good one for Elementary and Jr. High. Good Luck I hope you win!

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