March 13, 2018

Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan

by Katherine Applegate

Genres: Middle Grade Fiction, Animal Stories
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 307 pages
Published: January 17, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible
Note: The One and Only Ivan was a recipient of the John Newberry Medal. It is also available as an adapted picture book.

My Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Official Book Summary:

"Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope."


"Memories are precious...they help tell us who we are."


"I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.

It's not as easy as it looks.

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.

Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.

Everyone knows the peels are the best part."

My Book Review: 

Charlotte's Web meets Blackfish. Ivan is a gorilla in a private business zoo park. He sits in his small enclosure day after day with very little exposure to the outside world or the natural habitat of the world in which he should be living. Over the course of story, readers see Ivan make friends, sacrifice, find freedom and eventual happiness. The tale is very sweet and moving and a wonderful children's book for both child, teen, and adult readers. The illustrations are lovely, the story is easy to read, but the message and themes are moving and powerful.

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