The One and Only Ivan

IMG_3871You may, or may not, know that I have a thing for gorillas. I have spoken of them on several occasions. I grew up with a pet gorilla that kept me safe at night, and I like to read books about gorillas.

I heard about this book, The One and Only Ivan, some time ago. It won the Newbery Medal in 2013. I heard about how fabulous it was and how sad it was. Recently I got to find out for myself. The Mom Person decided it was time to have a quiet sit down and read the book.

IMG_0159The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
illustrations by Patricia Castelao
published by Harper in 2012

This is a fiction book based on a real gorilla. It’s the story of Ivan, a gorilla caught in the wild as a baby, who grew up as a pet wearing clothes and being treated as a human baby, then spent 27 years living in a cage in a shopping mall. Yes, 27 years. In a shopping mall. With no grass or trees or other gorillas. And not even a chance to go shopping!

The story is told in Ivan’s voice. This gives some real power to the tale. Ivan is a pretty easygoing fellow and doesn’t complain about the life that he has been given. He has friends in the mall circus – an elephant named Stella, a little homeless dog named Bob, and a little girl named Julia. Stella is an elderly elephant who performs in the mall circus every day. Bob likes to sleep on Ivan’s belly. And Julia is a budding artist who gave Ivan his first crayon. Ivan loves drawing and creating pictures. His keeper sells his artwork at one of the stores in the mall.

One day a new baby elephant arrives named Ruby. Ruby was taken from her home in the wild and brings new vision to the mall inhabitants. She causes Ivan to take a more realistic look at his surroundings and his life. This all leads to an interesting conclusion that I won’t tell you about – you’ll have to read the book!

IMG_0158This was a fantastic book! I loved hearing Ivan’s voice in my head. There were some sad parts in the book, but ultimately it was not a sad story, it was a story of hope and friendship and found joy. Ivan was a gentle soul with a big heart and great strength of character. He is my new super hero!

Everyone should read this book. Again and again.

The real Ivan lived out the last years of his life at the Atlanta Zoo. He died in 2012. He was 50 years old! You can find out more about him at the Atlanta Zoo website HERE.

Ms Applegate did an interview with NPR that you can listen to-or read if you prefer- HERE.

You can find out more about the book at the official The One and Only Ivan website HERE.

And a fun video brought to my attention by writersideup —

A book trailer done by librarian Julie Hembree –

I wish you a weekend full of joy and friends!
Your library friend

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18 thoughts on “The One and Only Ivan

  1. From the moment I picked this book up, I loved it! It’s a huge hit, as it should be. I thought the voice of the story was so perfect and compelling, and of course moving. Just love it!

    And this is something I watched SO many times, I couldn’t get enough of it. I was grinning about as wide as you can grin, and maybe half way through would get choked up, I loved it so much. Enjoy!…

    http :// vimeo. com/ 78169939 (delete the spaces)

  2. I have seen and read reviews about this book, but have not read it! Must change that! This really is a heartbreaking story. I’m glad he was rescued and taken to a zoo where he had more room.

    • It has a few illustrations in it, but is not a PB. 304 pages! That’s why it took so long for My Mom Person to decide to sit down and read it to me. A lot of quiet time was needed. It is all that it is cracked up to be. A fine story. Ms Applegate does have a new PB coming out though – about the real true story!

      • Well the reason I have passed over it so far is that I thought it was a picture books and picture books with gorillas freak me out a bit. But now I know it’s a long book, I should be okay.

        • No question, you most definitely will. In fact, there’s a very good chance you may be a little less freaked out by gorillas in PBs once you’ve finished “Ivan” πŸ™‚ You will LOVE him!

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