Sunday, January 19, 2014

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

So many people have talked about this book and for some reason I didn't pick it up. It wasn't until two friends told me they were reading it to their class that I decided I had better read it. I think what was stopping me was the fact that the target audience was a little younger than I usually read. However, now that I have read it, I can't see any reason why Intermediate students wouldn't want to read this book. Actually, now that I think about it, I can see kids of all ages enjoying this story. The One and Only Ivan is written from the perspective of Ivan- a silverback gorilla. And when I say it is written from his perspective, I really mean Ivan is the narrator of this story- the book is written as if he did the writing. As we learn Ivan's story, we learn that he has been in captivity for a very long time. He has some memories of his life in the jungle, but he tries his best to block those out. Ivan lives at the mall, and at one point he was the main attraction. He lives with a collection of other animals and they have all been friends for a really long time. When Ruby, a new elephant joins the gang, Ivan comes to realizes that being held in captivity isn't right and he decides to take a stand for his new friend. Of course being a gorilla, his options are a bit limited, but Ivan is an incredibly resourceful gorilla and he is determined to make a better life for Ruby. I am so glad I read this book. In many ways Ivan reminds me of Charlotte in Charlotte's Web, but the unique writing style allows the reader a glimpse into the world of being an animal in captivity. I think what is most remarkable, is that this book is actually based on a true story. No matter what age you teach, you should really read this book!


  1. Thanks for this review, Kerry! My students are enjoying the novel a lot so far and were interested to learn it is based on a true story. Did you know that gorillas and humans share 98% of the same DNA?

  2. This is a great book. I plan on reading it to my third graders. It's a story of friendship and determination.