The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only IvanBy Katherine Applegate

Ivan is not your typical gorilla.  Although he is massive and strong like other silverbacks, he doesn’t have the opportunity to use his power to protect his family.  Ivan doesn’t live in the lush forests with other gorillas.  He lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall – in a small cage he calls a domain – and his best friends are Bob the dog and Stella the elephant.

Ivan can hardly recall the life he led as a young gorilla.  The only thing he remembers vividly is his sister, Tag, and the way she used to chase him playfully through the trees.  He misses Tag, but he loves Stella and Bob, and even Julia, a girl who comes to see him on a daily basis.  Ivan also loves to draw and paint, and Julia is fond of bringing him supplies.

When Ruby, a young elephant, arrives to share Stella’s cage, Ivan starts to realize that maybe life in the mall is not normal.  Maybe gorillas (and elephants) belong in wild places with their own kind.  As Ivan becomes more and more protective of Ruby, he vows to get her out of the mall – somehow.

The One and Only Ivan is a sad story.  Both Ivan and Ruby have lost their families because of the cruel actions of humans.  But there may just be some humans who are good and loving.  Will Ivan be able to convince those kind people to help him and the other animals?

Based in part on a true story, The One and Only Ivanmight make you cry, but will also give you hope.  Maybe humans aren’t all bad.