Ivan the gorilla lives at the Exit 8 Bigtop Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan lives in a small glass domain with nothing but a food bowl, a stuffed toy and a television. Humans come and press their faces to the glass and point and stare. The zoo owner sometimes gives Ivan a crayon or paint. Ivan likes to draw pictures.
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. (pages 1-2)
Doesn’t that remind you of Harry Potter when he says to Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “But I’m just…just Harry!” Ivan has a couple friends, an old elephant named Stella and a stray dog named Bob. Bob sneaks into Ivan’s cage every night to sleep on his warm belly.
When the Exit 8 Big Top owner realizes attendance is down he buys a baby elephant named Ruby to make more people want to visit. Ruby’s arrival makes Ivan and his friends see their situation in a different way. Stella, in particular, can’t stand the idea of Ruby growing up at the mall. So, in the spirit of Charlotte’s Web, Ivan hatches a plan hoping to save Ruby from a lonely life at the mall. You’ll cry and cheer both! 2013 Newbery Medal Winner.
- The One and Only Ivan Official Website
- The One and Only Ivan Teaching Guide
- IndyPL Kids’ Blog: Amazing and True Animal Stories
- IndyPL Kids’ Blog: Newbery Award Winners
- The Real Ivan
- The Silverback of South Tacoma: Remembering Ivan the Gorilla
- NPR: Ivan Dies at 50 – a Gorilla Life Remembered Best Quote “Ivan’s story has touched thousands of people. He reminded us that even as we must face the “big” conservation and environmental problems with an ecosystem approach, we can’t forget the individuals, each of whom has a story, a personality and a history. Now Katherine Applegate’s book will help Ivan’s story touch thousands more.” ~Barbara J. King
If you like Ivan here are some more stories that imagine what life would be like from the animal’s point of view. We can never really know of course, but it IS interesting to imagine. You also might like to read about the gorilla Koko. Koko learned sign language, which makes you wonder if we CAN learn a little about what animals think. The last four books are about scientists who study gorillas in the wild or in captivity. Really, really fascinating. And I’m warnin’ ya…the animal stories will make you cry, just like Ivan. If you have a pet you’ll go hug it and think more about your responsibility and what it means to have an animal friend.