Book Review: The One and Only Ivan By Katherine Applegate

December 3, 2018

By Jennifer

The One and Only Ivan

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If you drive down the I-95 highway, you would see a giant freeway billboard with a drawing of an angry gorilla, an elephant on its hind legs, and the mall owner in clown clothes, advertising the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, home of the One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback. If you exit down Exit 8, you would come across the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. In that mall, you would stare through one of three glass walls, and see a silverback gorilla and an elephant, each in separate consecutive cages. A curious little dog darts in and out of the large cracks of the glass walls.

The silverback gorilla was Ivan, really artistic. The elephant was Stella, wise and caring. The curious little dog was Bob.

Despite the difference in size and personalities, they all had something in common-

They lost their family. Because of humans.

They were ripped out of their homes. Also by humans.

Yet, they didn’t mind being stuck in their cages until a new baby elephant was delivered to the mall, and put into another cage. She was named Ruby.

Ruby’s arrival changed the way all of them thought about being trapped in a cage, especially Ivan.

Later, Ivan promised that he would help Ruby get out of the mall, and into freedom- the zoo. And he did just that with the help of his friends (even some human friends), his artistic skills, and his creativity.

In the book The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate delivers a unique story of compelling events and captivating characters. This book takes you on a journey through the lives of kind animals as they explore the outside world from inside their cage. Written in a special format, and filled with humor, sorrow, and slight adventure, The One and Only Ivan gives us a glance at the animals’ feelings as they realize how harmful animal captivity is, and see the difference between good-hearted and selfish humans.




The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, HarperCollins, 320 pp.

Age Range: 8 and 12
Grade Level: 3-7

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