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The One and Only Ivan (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

"Within this poignant story about a long-imprisoned circus gorilla trying
to save a baby elephant from the harsh realities of life in a cage,
Katherine Applegate has given us both a heartbreaking look at the dark
side of animal captivity and a moving testament to the miraculous power
of true friendship. This beautiful story absolutely made me cry, but I
loved every page of it."

— Meghan G.

"The One and Only Ivan is the story of Ivan, a silverback
gorilla, who lived his life caged in a rundown mall. Told through Ivan’s
voice, I really felt his pain and his longing for a better life. This
is a book I won’t forget."

— Kathleen

“I read this aloud with my daughter, and it is a great discussion
starter. It’s about Ivan, a gorilla who lives in a mall, and he was
content for a long time. He realizes that his life could be better, and
he works hard to improve his life and the lives of the other animals. I
can definitely see why it’s won awards. It inspires empathy for the
voiceless. Ivan tries to communicate with the girl who comes to visit
him through drawings. She just responds with how cute she thinks they
are. Ivan is left frustrated and so distressed that he can’t make her
understand that he beats his chest and roars like he would out in the
wild. That’s an image that will stay with me for a long time.”

— Cindy

November 2011 Indie Next List

“Ivan, a gorilla, has spent most of his life with humans and the other animals at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. His memory of life before humans and cages is hazy, until a terrified young elephant joins him and he starts to remember the importance of family and belonging. A wonderful read, full of heart.”
— Lisa Fabiano, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA


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 hes 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 homeand his own artthrough new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and its up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

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

Praise For…

A must have.
-School Library Journal (starred review)

-Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates.
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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.
-Shelf Awareness

-The Horn Book

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.
-Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medal-winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall

Product Details
ISBN: 9780061992254
ISBN-10: 0061992259
Publisher: HarperTorch
Publication Date: January 17th, 2012
Pages: 305
Language: English