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The One and Only Ivan Hardcover – January 17, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,816 customer reviews

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National Geographic Kids Chapters: Rascally Rabbits!: And More True Stories of Animals Behaving Badly (NGK Chapters) by Aline Alexander Newman
National Geographic Kids Chapters: Rascally Rabbits!
Ideal for young animal lovers who are ready for short chapters, lively, exciting, full-color true stories just right to carry in your backpack, share with your friends, and read under the covers at night. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

Review

School Library Journal Best of Children's Books 2012

Kirkus Reviews Best of Children's Books 2012

Amazon 2012 Best Books of the Year, Middle Grade

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best 2012

New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, 2012

Cybils shortlist, 2012 middle grade fantasy (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards)

Texas Bluebonnet Award, 2013-14 Master List

2012 Nerdies Book Award, middle grade fiction

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews:
"How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.”

Starred Review, School Library Journal: 
“The characters will capture readers’ hearts and never let go.  A must-have.”

Starred Review, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books: 
“Extraordinary.”

"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 best book of 2012.” 
--John Schumacher (Watch. Connect. Read. blogger and 2014 Newbery committee member) and Travis Jonker (School Library Journal  blogger, 100 Scope Notes, and 2014 Caldecott committee member)

"Beautifully written, intelligent, and brave book…Quite simply, this story is life-changing.”
--Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medalist, Sarah, Plain and Tall

"The One and Only Ivan will break your heart--and then, against all odds, mend it again."
--Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor author of The Wednesday Wars

"Kindness and its ability to change lives shines through on every single page of this book.”
--Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath

From the Author

When I started to write about the grim facts of the real Ivan's solitary existence, a new tale slowly began to take shape.  At least on the page, where anything is possible, I wanted to give Ivan (even while captive behind the walls of his tiny cage) a voice of his own and a story to tell.
For more about the book, visit theoneandonlyivan.com.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 570L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061992259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061992254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,816 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More 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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Parents on the qui vive for deeper stories to share with their children need look no further than Katherine Applegate's tale, "The One and Only Ivan", written from the perspective of a Silverback gorilla living in a shopping mall.

Too many children are sheltered from animals, left to draw their experiences from animated movies like Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and Alvin and the Chipmunks. What's missing from those stories? Humanity and tenderness; qualities you will find in abundance in this book.

Applegate's story should resonate with animal lovers, too. The gorilla lives a simple, sad life with only a couple friends, including Bob, a stray dog, and Stella, an aging elephant. The years of living behind a glass wall at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade has numbed Ivan to his own misery. He is barely self-aware of his suffering until the arrival of a baby elephant named Ruby arouses emotions long dormant in Ivan.

I read the book to my sons as a bedtime story. The first-person narrative hooked them after only a few pages. The chapters are short, which makes it easy to reach a stopping point each night. A word of caution, only the cold-hearted will finish this book without feeling a pang or shedding a tear. My sons' enthusiasm has me considering The Yearling, a Pulitzer Prize winning classic, for our next bedtime book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was hesitant to chose this book thinking an animal book would be too silly or something . . . but Applegate's Home of the Brave is one of my favorite books ever so I decided to take a chance. And I am SO GLAD I DID. This book was wonderful--heartbreakingly wonderful. I just loved every character--both animal and human. Ivan the artistic gorilla, Stella the stoic mother elephant, Bob the tough on the outside but not so tough on the inside dog, and of course Ruby the baby elephant who just wants to be loved. And the humans: George the sympathetic caretaker and his daughter Julie, a bit like Fern in Charlotte's web because she can almost understand Ivan--or at least understand his art. Every character was real--even Mack the owner of the menagerie, though we hate what he's doing, there is more too him than just badness. The situation was just so sad but so well done--the minute I finished the book, I immediately passed it on to my daughter . . . maybe not the best idea to give it to her at bedtime though because I could not get her to turn out her light, she was so immediately drawn into the book. I highly recommend this moving book which teaches compassion towards animals.
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Format: Hardcover
I almost missed the joy of reading The One and Only Ivan because I thought that it was only for young readers, ages 8 to 12. Not so, this 54 year-old loved this book. The story was inspired by Ivan, a silver back gorilla who was raised by humans, and then sold when he became too large to keep in a home. For 27 years he lived in a cage in a shopping mall until public pressure ultimately won him a home among his own kind in a zoo. But this not a story of despair, it is about love and the power of one individual to make monumental changes. Katherine Applegate's character Ivan was resigned to his sad fate, whiling away his days thinking about art and painting pictures on scraps of paper. That is until a baby elephant named Ruby arrives. He soon realizes he must do something to save her from a lifetime in captivity. Using art as his only tool, he creates a new and better reality for her, and unwittingly for himself too. Readers of any age will enjoy this tale and have much to learn from Ivan.
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Format: Hardcover
"People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback. The names are mine, but they're not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan."

As evidenced by the above paragraph on the 2nd page, The One and Only Ivan is a lovely book by Katherine Applegate. I was unexpectedly and completely drawn right into this gorilla's thoughts and life. I felt for the gorilla, but I also immediately thought of any sort of name-calling or assumptions that cause people to doubt themselves -- be that person me or an 8-year-old who just got glasses.

Ivan is a gorilla who has lived in a weird sort of mall circus for 27 years. His owner isn't unkind to him, but he's lonely. And without seeming too dark, we hear about Ivan's loneliness and survival, recounted with Applegate's sparse yet beautiful prose (or is it a free-verse poem?). He's lonely for more of his kind and the life a gorilla is meant to have, but his life is not awful. He has Stella and Ruby the elephants in the area next to him, and Bob the stray dog who sneaks into the hole at the bottom of Ivan's glass enclosure to snuggle up and sleep on Ivan's stomach.

Julia, the janitor's daughter, also uses that hole. She slips Ivan paper and crayons and markers and paint. They are both artists, so they understand each other.

Ivan is a selfless hero, as he seeks to make baby elephant Ruby's life better and get her out there.

In spite of the fact that the story is from the point of view of an animal, it reads like realistic fiction. The humans and animals don't talk to each other, but Ivan narrates the story, and the animals communicate with each other.

I've given this 5 stars because it's an emotionally resonant novel that speaks to children.
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