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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 heâ€™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 homeâ€”and his own artâ€”through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and itâ€™s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better. Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivanâ€™s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope. Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal
About The Author Katherine Applegateâ€™s many books include the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter book series, the picture book The Buffalo Storm, and the award-winning novel Home of the Brave. With her husband, Michael Grant, she wrote the hugely popular series Animorphs, which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide. Katherine was inspired to write The One and Only Ivan after reading about the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The real Ivan lived alone in a tiny cage for twenty-seven years at a shopping mall before being moved to Zoo Atlanta after a public outcry. He is now a beloved celebrity at the zoo, which houses the nationâ€™s largest collection of western lowland gorillas. Ivan is well known for his paintings, which he â€œsignsâ€ with a thumb-print. Katherine lives in California with her husband and two children.
Reviews Publishers Weekly
Inspired by a true story, Applegate (Home of the Brave) offers a haunting tale told from the perspective of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who has been confined to a small â€œdomainâ€ of concrete, metal, and glass for 27 years. Joining Ivan at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade are Stella, an aging elephant, and Bob, a feisty stray dog. While other animals perform, Ivan makes art, watches TV, and offers melancholy assessments of their situation. When Ruby, an inquisitive baby elephant, arrives and Stella dies from neglect, her dying wish is for Ivan to help Ruby escape. The brief chapters read like free-verse poetry, the extra line breaks between paragraphs driving home the contrast between Ivan and humans, who in his opinion, â€œwaste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.â€ As is to be expected, thereâ€™s significant anthropomorphism, but Applegate is largely successful in creating a protagonist who can understand humans yet feels like a gorilla. Although Ivanâ€™s role in the events leading to their rescue reads as too human, readers will be left rethinking our relationship to animals. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8â€“12. (Jan.) Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Extraordinary. Shelf Awareness
Discover an animal hero that will take his place with other courageous and beloved animals such as Babe, Mrs. Frisby, Charlotte and Wilbur. Adults reading this aloud with children will find it just as rewarding. The Horn Book
Important. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Extraordinary. The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
Extraordinary. Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Extraordinary. Patricia MacLachlan
A beautifully written, intelligent and brave book. You will never look at the relationship of humans and animals in the same way again. Quite simply, this story is life changing. Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
"Some animals live privately, unwatched, but that is not my life." Thus begins the self-told story of Ivan, a silver back gorilla on permanent display at the Big Top Mall, off I-95. He "belongs" to Mack, the down-on-his-luck mall owner. He has a few non-gorilla friends: Stella, an aging, ailing elephant and Bob, a stray dog, are his closest. Ivan prefers to call his cage a domain. It contains a pool of dirty water, a tire swing and lots and lots of hard concrete. One wall is painted to look like a tropical forest. From time to time, Mack turns on a TV for Ivan. But that's not all there is to Ivan. He's an artist. Mack gives Ivan crayons and paper, and his framed creations sell for , but Ivan remembers when he got to finger paint with mud. He also remembers the sound of leaves, the taste of tropical fruit and Tag, his sister who died during their capture. The brightest time in Ivan's life is when the night time janitor, George, brings his daughter, Julia, who visits the gorilla. Just as his life seems set forever, a new friend arrives, a baby elephant named Ruby, who inspires Ivan to view his "home" through new eyes. One night, Julia brings finger paints and paper for Ivan, then calls the local news to tell them about this remarkable artistic gorilla. As the public becomes aware of Ivan and his captive friends, a movement to find Ivan a better home grows. Finally Ivan is lured into a large crate and he is moved again, to a zoo. But will Ivan's life be any better? Will he ever see Rudy, Bob or Julia again? This story is based on a true account of a shopping mall gorilla, which was moved to an Atlanta zoo and became a beloved celebrity with his own gorilla friends/family. This tale is, in turn, horrifying and heartwarming. Applegate captures Ivan's voice well: she writes in short paragraphs, and makes Ivan come alive. No young reader who experiences this book will look at a zoo animal the same again. Castelao's illustrations add a winsome charm. Well done! Reviewer: Judy Crowder Kirkus Reviews
How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage. Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human-except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and, rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers' passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout. Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author's note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12) The storyline is beautiful. The writing is beautiful. The amazing black and white pictures that adorn the page are beautiful. And the feeling you're left with at page end is simply beautiful. (And when I cried, it was beautifully felt!) (The one and only Ivan, is a silverback, after all.)
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