HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate | Book Review

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate | Book Review

The Children’s Book Review | January 27, 2016

The One and Only Ivan By Katherine ApplegateThe One and Only Ivan

Written by Katherine Applegate

Illustrated by Patricia Castelao

Age Range: 8 – 12 years

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (January 6, 2015)

ISBN-13: 978-0061992278

What to Expect: Animals, Friendship

The One and Only Ivan is a bestselling novel about hope and friendship. It was inspired by a real silverback gorilla named Ivan who was held captive for 27 years. 

Narrated by Ivan himself, a beautiful story of friendship unfolds between Ivan, an elephant named Stella, and a stray dog named Bob. Ivan is comfortable in his domain in the shopping mall where he watches TV and makes artwork that is sold to the people who watch him through glass windows far from the jungle. Stella, on the other hand, has a longer memory than Ivan and she longs to live in a zoo where larger domains are provided. Ruby, a new baby elephant, which has been plucked from the wild, is introduced to the Big Top Mall where she is to learn circus tricks from Stella. Soon after, Stella becomes sick. Before she passes away she charges Ivan with taking care of Ruby. Ivan begins to recall his time in the jungle and his desire for freedom and to help Ruby, rise. The author’s note at the end of the book is a wonderful addition; Katherine Applegate talks about the differences between the true events and her story.

Katherine Applegate’s writing is superb, subtle, and incredibly emotive. Rightly so, The One and Only Ivan won the Newbery Medal in 2013 and has consistently been a bestselling novel. This is an incredible book to be enjoyed solo or as a read-aloud. It also makes for great book club conversations. How ever you decide to enjoy The One and Only Ivan, it’s a winner!

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About the Author

Katherine Applegate’s many books include the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter book series, a picture book entitled The Buffalo Storm, and the award-winning novel, Home of the Brave. With her husband, Michael Grant, she wrote the hugely popular series Animorphs, which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.

Katherine was inspired to write The One and Only Ivan after reading about the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, the “Shopping Mall Gorilla.” The real Ivan lived alone in a tiny cage for twenty-seven years at a shopping mall before being moved to Zoo Atlanta after a public outcry. He was a beloved celebrity at the zoo, which houses the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas, and was well known for his paintings, which he “signed” with a thumb-print.

Katherine lives in California with her husband and two children.

For more information, visit: TheOneAndOnlyIvan.com

The One and Only Ivan, written by Katherine Applegate, was reviewed by Bianca Schulze. Discover more books like The One and Only Ivan by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with  and .

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.


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