The One and Only Ivan


Ivan, a lone gorilla, was kept and shown by a Washington State shopping mall for twenty-seven years. From this horrifying fact, Katherine Applegate builds the story of that gorilla, ‘The One and Only Ivan‘. This is a story of friendship, loyalty, memory, and ultimately, courage.  Is it possible that Ivan can stand up, be counted and break barriers for another lonely, capitve animal?

The One and Only Ivan‘ is riveting. I could not put the story down. I sought more titles from Katherine Applegate, once finished and alighted on  Crenshaw.

The One and Only Ivan‘ is a gentle, inspiring and powerful book. Ivan is a character, and story, that stays with you.

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The One and Only Ivan

Katherine Applegate

(Harper Collins)

The One and Only Ivan is a lone gorilla, captive in a Washington Mall. How does this mighty creature maintain his pride and faith in something beyond his confines? Where do his thoughts go? Thereafter, is it possible that when young elephant, Ruby, joins him, something might be stirred? Is it possible that Ivan’s memories of his mother, a time before, might trigger something in this gorilla? What’s more, what will happen when this gorilla begins to remember? Could it change his relationships with the humans about him, those who stare, and those who no longer even see him?
 Katherine Applegate manages to have us feel Ivan’s thoughts and realise his interpretation of the frantic humans that pepper his life. Is it possible that any deserve his trust? Then again, might Ruby be the tipping point for this pachyderm? Could it be that he will step out to paint his memories, hidden far away, of his mother, of his capture? As with Crenshaw this writer, gets under our skin that we are fully involved in a wonderful story of meaning, empathy, inconceivable cruelty and bravery. The One and Only Ivan is essential reading for all middle grade readers.

Winner of the Newbery Medal


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