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The One and Only Ivan: A Harper Classic Hardcover – October 24, 2017
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★ “Will capture readers’ hearts and never let go. A must have.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
★ “Animal-loving youngsters and their adults will find plenty of food for thought in Ivan’s extraordinary story.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review))
★ “Exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“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)
“Important.” (The Horn Book)
“The One and Only Ivan will break your heart—and then, against all odds, mend it again. In cheering for Ivan and his friends, we cheer for our own humanity and our own possibilities. Read this.” (Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor author of The Wednesday Wars)
“A beautifully written, intelligent and brave book. You will never look at the relationship of humans and animals in the same way again. Quite simply, this story is life changing.” (Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medal-winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall)
“Katherine Applegate’s beautiful, life-affirming story will soar directly from Ivan’s heart into your own. Read it out loud. Read it alone. Read it.” (Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath)
About the Author
Katherine Applegate is the author of The One and Only Ivan, winner of the Newbery Medal and a #1 New York Times bestseller. Her other books include the acclaimed Wishtree, Crenshaw, Home of the Brave, and the Roscoe Riley Rules series. She lives in California with her family. www.endlingbooks.com
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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.”
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!
I was initially intimidated by the length of the book, but some of the pages/chapters are very short and the storyline is very straight-forward. However, there are several depressing & heartbreaking scenes that I personally find too overwhelming for younger children. I would only recommend this book to those with at least junior high-level reading and social skills.