The One and Only Ivan
Captive wild animals
Applegate tells the story of a laid-back, adult silverback gorilla living in a filthy cage at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, a sad, circus-themed shopping center. When he befriends a baby elephant named Ruby, brought to the mall to boost lagging foot traffic, he makes a vow to break he... Read More »
Kind of like Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael" for kids. Beautiful writing with a strong message that never feels forced or ham-handed. Highly recommended!
I always say I don't like novels in verse.
The story of Ivan, a silverback kept on display in a mall, could not have been told in any other voice.
Another reviewer likens this to Charlotte's Web. At first I bristled at the comparison, because nothing compares to Charlotte's Web. Ivan and Charlo... Read More »
An incredible book. Moving, complex, beautifully written, elegiac and strong. The cover art looks cute. The writing is so good but not cute. Highly recommended by Gary Schmidt, Kathi Applet, Patricia MacLachlan.This is a cross over book -- adults will find a lot in the story for themselves. It re... Read More »
AgeAdd Age Suitability
joycemas thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 12
olive_cat_145 thinks this title is suitable for 6 years and over
orange_cat_419 thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over
branch_reviews thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 13
andreajang thinks this title is suitable for All Ages
AwesomeFace924 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages
sential thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 6 and 13
kawaiiluv360 thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over
LocketLibrarian thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over
SummaryAdd a Summary
Having spent 27 years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.
This book is told from the point of view of the gorilla Ivan. Ivan is treated as a means for income and certainly not a respected animal of God's creation. Applegate's story tells of Ivan's friendships with the other animals in this shopping mall mini-circus.
Basically what we have here is Charlotte’s Web if you took that tiny spider and replaced her with a 300-pound gorilla. Which, to be frank, would normally bode badly for said gorilla. And certainly badly is how Ivan, the titular hero of this tale, bodes when you consider that he is trapped in an off-highway mall circus. Ivan’s never questioned his fate seriously, considering that he’s been there for twenty-seven years. Then one day Mack, the owner of the mall, decides that the only way to drum up more business will be to buy a new resident. There’s already Ivan and Stella, the elephant with an injured foot that doesn’t seem to be getting better. To this mix comes Ruby, a baby elephant not long captured from her home in the wild. Thanks to Ruby, Ivan sees that this is no place for a baby of any sort and he must use all his brains and intelligence to find a way to save not just her but himself as well.
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QuotesAdd a Quote
In my new life as a human, I was well tended. I ate lettuce leaves with Thousand Island dressing, and caramel apples, and popcorn with butter. My belly ballooned.
But hunger, like food, comes in many shapes and colors. At night, lying alone in my Pooh pajamas, I felt hungry for the skilled touch of a grooming friend, for the cheerful grunts of a play fight, for the easy safety of my nearby troop, foraging through shadows. . . .
Sometimes I lay awake, wishing for the warmth of another just like me, asleep in a night nest of tender prayer-plant leaves.
I liked having sips of soda poured into my mouth like a bubbling waterfall. But every now and then, I longed to search for a tender stalk of arrowroot, to feel the tease of a mango, just out of reach.
Bob, who has been chewing his tail, pauses, tilting his head. "Is that a true story?"
"I always tell the truth," Stella replies. "Although I sometimes confuse the facts."
“Human babies are an ugly lot. But their eyes are like our babies’ eyes. Too big for their faces, and for the world.”