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VINE VOICEon February 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I got this for my niece to check out. I try to instill a love of books in my nieces. So to make sure my animal-loving niece would love be interested, I thought a book about a gorilla & other animals would be just the key.

What I did notice about the book, the print is spread out & easy to ready for a young one. My niece, in first grade, enjoyed reading it... she did need help, but looked forward to every chapter.

You know its a good book when a 7 yr old recommends it to the other "animal lovers" in the family & saying, "You will LOVE this" :)
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on January 11, 2013
Katherine Applegate’s book has been recommended to me by students and I see it is on the SLJ Best Books of 2012 and I so agree. Ivan is a Silverback gorilla who lives in a rundown mall at the end of Exit 8 where he is billed as the one and only, Ivan. Ivan has lived here his whole life and has a few friends in Stella, the elephant and Bob, the homeless dog. He has been raised by Mack, who owns this rag tag show and is not happy that profits are down. George cleans the stalls and his daughter Julia, does her homework and draws. When Stella falls ill and Mack brings in a baby elephant, Stella exacts a promise from Ivan that he will make sure Ruby has a safe place to spend her life. Ivan loves to draw and he is able to communicate to Julia through his pictures that Ruby needs to spend her life in a zoo. Based on a true story, Ivan and Ruby’s plight will pull at your heart. Animal lovers will enjoy this beautiful, brave book.
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on February 7, 2012
If you love animals and want to read a book that will touch your heart, then this is the book for you. Ivan is a silverback gorilla, stuck in a mall animal theme park and losing hope. His only friends are Stella, an aging elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. The custodian's daughter, Julia, takes pity on him and gives him crayons. Ivan discovers that he has an artist's eye, which he uses to dream about the world outside the mall. When a recent addition of a baby elephant, changes Ivan's ideas about living in captivity, he takes action to save her. This novel uses a first person narrative about a gorilla in captivity, loosely based on an actual event, and builds a story about compassion, empathy and standing up for your principles. With some tears at the beginning, but an ending to cheer for, the author delivers a new classic that will enchant generations.
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VINE VOICEon January 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Did you ever start a book, not knowing what you were going to think of it, and end up staying awake all night trying to finish it because you just can't imagine putting it down? That was my experience with The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I know I had to work the next day, but I simply couldn't stop reading.

Ivan is a gorilla. He is the only gorilla at a small zoo located at the Big Top Mall. Even though he doesn't have any gorilla friends, Ivan still has Stella, the old elephant, and Bob, the stray dog, who make him as happy as two friends ever could. He even has the zoo's cleaner George and his daughter Julia to visit him and keep him company. No one is really happy at the Big Top Mall, but they live their lives the best they can under the circumstances.

When a new baby elephant named Ruby is brought to the zoo, everything changes. Ruby and her sadness make the rest of the residents of the Big Top Mall realize just how sad they really are as well. Everyone becomes protective of Ruby, even when her constant questions drive them crazy. Stella protects Ruby as though Ruby were her own daughter, but when Stella gets sick, she makes Ivan promise he will get Ruby out of the little, miserable zoo and to some place where Ruby can be happy. Ivan is a gentle giant, but he takes his oath seriously, especially when he sees the zoo's owner, Mack, take out the claw stick on Ruby when she refuses to learn Stella's tricks. Ivan needs to save Ruby, but how can a gorilla who hasn't left his small cage in years get her out of the zoo?

As I first started reading this book and they described the animals in their cages, I almost put it down. I really can't take anything that involves animals hurt or neglected, so it took a lot of will power to keep going (even though the descriptions aren't terribly graphic, they still made me very sad). I am glad I kept going. The story of Ivan and his friends, both human and creature, was so beautiful, it was heartbreaking. I kept reading because Ivan just had to save Ruby. I needed him to save Ruby. She was so innocent and naive, and seeing her in that zoo broke my heart. Ivan was such an interesting character with his gentle nature and his artistic talents (he likes to draw bananas the most, but draws other things too!). When he uses those artistic talents to save Ruby, you will literally find yourself beaming from ear to ear!

This is a beautiful middle reader story told in simple language from Ivan's point of view. He explains gorillas are creatures of few words, so the story is told in short, simple bursts of paragraphs. Since they are so small, it becomes a great book for a beginning reader who can stop and start with great frequency if they need to (if they can bring themselves to). I might give this story to an older, struggling reader because it is such a touching, beautiful story, but I would make sure it wasn't a student who would be insulted by slightly juvenile writing. The story would keep them interested, but the writing is young. If you need a story to read aloud in class or at home with your child, give Ivan and the crew a chance. You won't be sorry you did!
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on December 9, 2013
Did anyone mention that this book is based on a real Gorilla and story?
I visited Ivan at the B & I store in Tacoma Wa as a child. Ivan was locked in a glass cage there for so many years.
Even as a child, I was sad by it and knew that it was so wrong.
Ivan did eventually make it out and to a sanctuary to live out the last few years of his life.
I bought this book to read myself as an adult - and thankful someone else felt the same way that I did as a child about his situation and was articulate enough to write a book about it! I wonder if the author was a child like me visiting Ivan in a glass cage at the mall!
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on January 17, 2014
I was really impressed with the book, "Wonder". This book was recommended to me on the basis of this other book. I found the One and Only Ivan to be very simplistic. I didn't like the style of writing (short chapters, unimaginative descriptions), nor did I think the plot had a lot of depth. I'm an elementary school teacher and I am interested in books that teach kids about empathy. I felt this book touched on that topic but never really expanded on it to bring the kids along to an 'ah-ha' moment. I give this 3 stars because I feel part of what hurt this book for me was my expectations. I wanted it to be something it wasn't.
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on October 12, 2012
This would make a fantastic read-aloud for kids, and would prompt some wonderful discussions. The fact that it is based on a real story is only a bonus! I wish that I taught elementary-age children, so that I could use it in the classroom.

It was somewhat of a struggle how to rate this. For me, it was 3.5-4 stars. A simple story, but beautiful, and I loved the characterizations. Bob the dog was an especial favorite: how intelligent he was, yet purposefully nonchalant about it, and how he pretended to be rough and uncaring but utterly failed. That's a lot for an author to show about a character that doesn't have that many lines and isn't really part of the action, and also happens to be a dog. Back to the point, though, as a read-aloud to 6-10 year old, I would give it five stars, so I went for the middle and gave it four.

I also enjoyed the illustrations, and went on to look up the paintings of the real Ivan (who just died in August of this year, by the way, at the Atlanta Zoo!). The ones available through Google images are much more abstract than what is portrayed in this book, but have a lovely sense of composition :)

In any case, an all around good read. It's a children's book that is actually intended for children (unlike the current spate of YA fantasy that is bought by more As than YAs), though it can be enjoyed by adults as well.
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on November 28, 2015
First, my daughter is a reluctant reader. I am not sure she has ever completely read a novel from front to back in her life. She was required to read a book for a book report in school. I told her to read 50 pages each day; on the second day, she came out of her room after an hour to get a drink and said, "Mom, this book is great! I am on page 150!" After another hour, she came out with a huge smile on her face and said it was the best story she has ever read! As an avid reader myself, I have never understood why she hates to read. Now I know she has just never read the RIGHT book to get her hooked!

In addition, I am a 5th grade teacher. In my school, we have daily Book Clubs. I have been reading The One and Only Ivan with my students for 3 years and their reactions are exactly like my daughter's. Katherine Applegate is an amazing author! I love how Ivan, the gorilla, is the narrator; this gives the reader a great inside look into his thoughts and feelings. You easily fall in love with each of the characters and build compassion for each one. I highly recommend this book for any elementary student!
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on April 9, 2012
I really enjoyed The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate even though it is children's fiction. It is based on a true story about Ivan, a Silverback gorilla who was captured and put in a cage for 27 years without any contact with any other gorillas. In this book, Ivan is the narrator and his owner sells Ivan's drawings and paintings. Ivan is quite an artist. Ivan has a stray dog named Bob who comes into his "domain" and sleeps on Ivan's stomach. In the next cage is Stella, an elephant, who is a good storyteller but who had a hard life at a circus. When a baby elephant, Ruby, joins her, she is very protective of her and when she knows she is dying, gets Ivan to promise to protect Ruby for her. He comes up with a great plan to get Ruby moved to a zoo. This is such a cute book that has a happy ending. It is a quick read but very enjoyable! If you like animals and are looking for a heartwarming story, I recommend this one! I loved it!
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on May 6, 2016
When my 11-year-old finished reading this novel, his first statement was, “I LOVED that book!” With an endorsement like that and because it was the first instance where he ‘stopped time,’ I had to read the book too.

A copy of the author’s Newbery Medal acceptance speech is at the back of my copy of The One and Only Ivan. In it, the author says,” We live in a world where children are bullied into despair and even suicide; where armed guards in a school hallway are considered desirable; where libraries are padlocked because of budget cuts; where breakfast and backpacks, for too many children are unaffordable luxuries.”

“What makes children better than the rest of us is that they are buoyant, unrepentant optimists.”

As a writer, reader, and lover of words, I make it a habit to ‘stop time’ whenever I come across sparkling phrases that deserve homage. A ‘stop time’ is where we stop whatever we are doing to read out loud and to listen; we listen to both the author’s words and to what made that phrase so meaningful to the reader.

Although my son and I read the same book, our reactions to it were as different as a carefree stroll through the park and being caught in a traffic snarl in the city at rush hour. Where my son delighted in the animal conversations, I sobbed.

Pixar uses humor with double meaning brilliantly in their storytelling. Katherine Applegate uses the same technique, but in a more realistic vein.
I sobbed because the adult world my son will live in doesn’t have easy answers. It isn’t colorful, silly, and happy all the time. The innocence of his childhood is beginning to seep away.

While Ivan and Ruby soothe each other and tell stories to help them sleep, the author communicates the ache of loneliness, coping skills, feeling boxed in, and the power that is found when helping a friend…or your own child.

The first ‘stop time’ that my son called happened when Ivan makes an impossible promise to Ruby, the baby elephant.
I’ve been waiting and watching for this moment. A maturity level that notices deeper concepts. An opportunity to share family ideals and values. An easing into the world of adulthood – or at least into the turbulent teens.

“Children know all about sadness,” comments Applegate in her speech. “We can’t hide it from them. We can only teach them how to cope with its inevitably and to harness their imaginations in search for joy and wonder.”
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