Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The One and Only Ivan” as Want to Read:
The One and Only Ivan
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The One and Only Ivan

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  53,987 ratings  ·  6,640 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by HarperCollins (first published December 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The One and Only Ivan, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Asteropê There was a real gorilla named Ivan. According to Wiki: He spent the first 27 years of his life in a 40' x 40' concrete enclosure on display for the…moreThere was a real gorilla named Ivan. According to Wiki: He spent the first 27 years of his life in a 40' x 40' concrete enclosure on display for the public at the B&I Circus Store in Tacoma, Washington. He was then moved to a zoo.

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Paty You could infer that the stuff animal went with Bob and Julia. I am sure the author didn't write about it because he isn't really a character.…moreYou could infer that the stuff animal went with Bob and Julia. I am sure the author didn't write about it because he isn't really a character.(less)
Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
2nd out of 118 books — 1,165 voters
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingCharlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. LewisWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100 Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime
118th out of 1,408 books — 1,385 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
A very touching story that will rip out your heart, stomp on it, then pick it back up and cradle it. Cause that's what Silverbacks do.

I appreciate all the things KA managed to work into this book - primarily, our misunderstanding of animals (and mistreat), while showing that we aren't all bad. Also Stella's character was awesome. I'LL MISS YOU STELLAPHANT.

Anyways, READ IT.
Paul  Hankins
Mr. Hankins is putting his readers on THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN for the beginning of 2012's reading season.

Think of all of the good stuff you loved about THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN and TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE and, instead of sitting with Enzo in a cozy living room watching the discovery channel or with Morrie in a study littered with books and notes, you'll be sitting in a cage with Ivan, "the Ape at Exit 8," a thoughtful gorilla tasked with one of the most difficult callings ever. . .caring for a
Sherry Philippus
Apr 03, 2012 Sherry Philippus rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: middle and elementary students
Recommended to Sherry by: Bluebonnet selection
Just when I think I'm too old, too mature, too hard-hearted, too sophisticated, too busy, or too "something" to allow a children's book to make me cry, along comes a story like this one.

Don't have enough of the right words to describe it...I definitely haven't mastered the craft of writing the way Ms. Applegate has. And the way she does it, with the sparest of prose, is impressive.

To me, "good" writing makes the reader view something with a fresh perspective, as if (s)he has never, ever experie
Rick Riordan
I've had The One and Only Ivan on my 'to be read' list for several months, and I'm so glad I read it! A fabulous book for elementary and middle grades (and older), this is probably my favorite animal story since Charlotte's Web -- and I don't make that comparison lightly. Like E.B. White's classic, it is by turns tender, funny, sad and uplifting. It's a quick read -- I'm a slow reader, and I got through it in one day. Ivan the gorilla narrates, and he is a very fine fellow indeed. I loved it. Mo ...more
Lindsey Rey
This was the absolute CUTEST!!!!!
Stella  ☢FAYZ☢ Chen
May 25, 2012 Stella ☢FAYZ☢ Chen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Stella by: Michael Grant
Edit: My friend Matt recently wrote a review for this book and it's shorter and much nicer than mine so you should read his instead of mine. Matt's review is here.

So my childhood came for a visit last weekend. By that, I mean this book came into my life last weekend. Big fonts and equally majestic illustrations reminded me of being a kid again. Yet, this book goes beyond a children's book. Everyone should read it because it conveys a story many other books lack.

I, of course, expected nothing les
I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do. ~The One and Only Ivan

::sniff:: What's that in my eye, this watery, salty substance? Crying? No. I'm not crying. I'm too old and cynical to cry. My tear ducts have long dried up. Really.


Oh for godsake, will someone hand me a tissue!

This is a sweet, adorable story that will tug at your heart-strings in the most uplifting way. It is a beautiful, tender tale of friendship
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
Jul 12, 2014 Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship} rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone aged 12+
Recommended to Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship} by: The Holy Terror
Chicken soup for the soul. The Grinch himself would be hard-pressed not to empathise with Ivan's story. With a gorgeous cover and a heartbreaking memoir of a lonely, caged gorilla living among other mistreated "circus" animals, delivered via emotionally-charged and insightful writing, Ms. Applegate forced tears from this stoic, 25-year-old pessimist.


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 S
Based on a true story, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN is the tale of a silverback gorilla who's forgotten how to be a gorilla in many ways. Raised in a house with people who fed him ice cream cones and took him to baseball games, Ivan grows rambunctious and ends up creating finger paintings as one of the star attractions in a mall circus. When Ruby, a baby elephant arrives, Ivan promises to save her from a lifetime chained in a tiny cage. To do so, he needs to reclaim his title as silverback, the leader ...more
For the past few days, my co-workers have been worshiping at the altar of The One and Only Ivan.

“Monica,” they said to me, “why have you not read this book? It is the best book ever written! It is a book that will change your life! Monica, you will laugh! You will cry! You will find yourself transformed! You must read this book, Monica!”

Normally I try to stay away from obvious cultists, but they talked me into it, and I took a copy home.

This book is freaking amazing.

It did indeed made me laugh
Steven Stickler
My, what a marvelous book. Absolutely beautiful. I hesitate to review it. I’d rather just say this: Read it. Soon. Preferably today. Don’t waste your time on the rest of this review when you could be reading the book.

Okay, now that you’ve read the book, here’s my take on things: It is not exactly a secret that this book is one of the most celebrated of the year. For me, that is often a sign to stay away. What sort of book could live up to such critical acclaim? Who needs the disappointment?

Qué historia tan bonita, tan bien contada y tan tierna. Qué preciosidad de novela. Las ilustraciones son pocas pero me sacaban una sonrisa y la voz de Iván estaba perfectamente definida y transmitía un montón. Me ha faltado algo, algo muy pequeño, pero es una de mis novelas favoritas en lo que llevo de año. Qué sensibilidad, Applegate.
Like a Pixar movie, The One and Only Ivan treats complex emotions with simplicity. The simple, direct language translates to children and adults, and Applegate excels at subtext and tone, keeping a barely restrained current of fear and hostility underneath Ivan's calm, child-like voice. She really illustrates the power of "show, don't tell." That restraint shows how much better things are when the author takes in the emotion and indirectly shows the reader rather than straight telling us. Becaus ...more
Ivan, a lowland gorilla, has been performing in a mall circus for almost 30 years. He copes with his captivity by drawing artwork, talking with his friends, Stella (an elephant) and Bob (a stray dog), and repressing memories of his family and life in the wild.

When a baby elephant, Ruby, is brought in to increase mall attendance, Ivan realizes he has to do something to protect Ruby and spare her from the same bleak life as his.

Spare, poetic images share Ivan's thoughts and slowly reveal the truth
Jenn Estepp
I was pretty convinced, when I first heard of this book, that it was not my thing and I wasn't interested. And even when the starred reviews started rolling in, I sort of maintained this. Animal storie? Eh. Animal stories narrated by the animal? Eh. Books that are frequently descriibed as "heartwarming" and "life affirming" and "teach valuable lessons about life"? Gag me. And, that happen to be based, in part, on true events? Eye roll. Books wherein you can practically guess the outcome of befor ...more
Marcos Sánchez Bueno
Al terminar de leer "El único e incomparable Iván" he sonreído.
La historia de este gorila de espalda plateada, a diferencia de lo que esperaba, es apta para aquellos que sufran con el maltrato animal (eso sí, corre el peligro de que se le escapen unas lagrimillas). Se trata de una novela de las que demuestra que es el "cómo" es igual de importante que el "qué" a la hora de contar algo.
Quizás esperaba un libro (aún) más crudo, pero no se puede negar el indudable esfuerzo de la autora por tratar
El único e incomparable Iván es una novela que se ha convertido en todo un fenómeno "Crossover" en Estados Unidos. Una novela ganadora del premio Newbery Medal y dirigida a un público infantil que ha acabado siendo juvenil y adulto. No esperaba para nada la historia fuera como es, sino que esperaba algo sencillo e infantil. Pero estaba muy equivocada y ha sido una historia que me ha sorprendido y me ha encantando.
Siempre he dicho y he pensado que me gustan las buenas novelas. Y para mí las verda
Colby Sharp
This book is a masterpiece. Timeless. Children and adults will be reading this book for a long time.
There is beauty on every single page of this book.

Rereading, February 2013, as a classroom read aloud.

Rereading, September 2013, as a classroom read aloud.

Rereading, October 2014, as a classroom read aloud.
Patti Henger
Full review:

One of the cutest books on earth. If you don't find it so you might not have a soul. Too strong? That might not be the best summary. I suppose I'll continue. This beautiful story of friendship follows a Gorilla named Ivan and his friends- Stella the elephant and Bob the dog at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. The story follows Ivan's musings on human behavior, his past life in the jungle with his family, and the ways in which he entert
Book Concierge
Ivan is a silverback lowland gorilla whose domain is a box with three walls made of thick glass, a fourth made of concrete (painted with a jungle scene), and a concrete floor. His two best friends at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall are Stella, the performing elephant, and Bob, a stray dog who hides from the humans during the day and sleeps on Ivan’s belly at night. Ivan didn’t always live in this domain; he grew up in a jungle with other gorillas, but he was captured when he was a baby and hardly rememb ...more
This title came to my notice via y friend Spedbug tumbled onto this at the urging of another friend. I am grateful to both.

This is a work of fiction, about a silverback gorilla, living in a sideshow tourist trap, and the family he creates there. I remember when gorilla this was based on was rescued from the place he'd lived (Oregon maybe) back in the 90's. At the time, it struck me how awful it must have been for him to have lived something like 34 years never seeing another gorilla. I was only
Beth Knight
Based on a true story and written in the first person point of view of Ivan, a silverback gorilla, The One and Only Ivan tells the story of life at Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan has two close friends, a stray dog named Bob and an elephant named Stella, with whom he communicates. Ivan is also an artist who draws pictures of the things that are found in his cage, which Ivan refers to as his "domain". He spends his days conversing with his friends, drawing, and watching shows on the TV ...more
All right, the topic is Famous Ape Books of Children's Literature. And . . . go. Care to name any? Well there's Curious George, of course (often mistakenly called a monkey in spite of his lack of tail). He's the most famous but after that it gets harder. Eva by Peter Dickinson might count (also a chimp). Or a book like Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby (chimp). Gorillas appear to be much rarer, which is funny when you consider it. I would think an animal as big and impressive as a gorilla would be a ...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Okay, so my 9-year-old brother got this book for Christmas and has been reading/enjoying it. It was sitting around on the couch and I thought it looked interesting, so I picked it up and started reading ... and kept reading. And ended up finishing it. (Granted, even though it's 300 pages there are only like twenty words on every page, so ...)

I thought this was a really sweet book, and quite well-written and emotional. The style of it is simple and I think it effectively captured the voice of a
I have just discovered my psychic abilities.

Let me make a prediction:
If you - yes, YOU! - read this book, you will sob quietly, laugh out loud, boil with rage, grin like a Cheshire cat and cry your heart out.

Wanna know how exact this prophecy is? Test it. For your own sake.
(Dneska jsem ohledně hvězdiček dost štědrá.)

A dneska jsem asi i dost přecitlivělá. Bylo to... osamělé, statečné, umělecké, banánové, gorilí a úžasné.
Milé a plné zajímavých myšlenek.
A v mém případě i dost uslzené.
This quick-read Newberry medal winner tugs hard at the heartstrings. Ivan is a silverback gorilla captured from the wild almost 30 years ago living in a small cage at a mall. He and a few other animals--notably an elephant--perform little tricks for customers. Ivan is an artist. The One and Only Ivan is the kind of animal fiction in which various animals talk to each other, and in this story, make art. Ivan is based on a real gorilla that lived at a highway exit before being moved to a zoo. The ...more
There is an epigraph at the start of this book that goes,
It is never too late to be
what you might have been.
- George Eliot

I'll just paraphrase it and say, it is never too late to read books like these. Books that are game changers. They change how you think. And you are grateful for that.

One and Only Ivan has won a couple of awards, Newberry 2013 amongst them. That is not why you should read this book. Read it because it will make you a better person. And I don't say that lightly.
It is written
What a beautiful, heart breaking, emotional, amazing story. I laughed, I smiled, I choked up, and I cried, all while reading this aloud to my daughter.

I saw the real Ivan the Gorilla in the 1980's when he was kept at the B&I Shopping Center in Tacoma, Washington. His enclosure was heartbreaking. It was a cement box, a small cement box, and he lived there, inside this shopping mall for 27 years. I was so happy when he was turned over to a zoo, so he could at least live out his remaining years
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Starry River of the Sky
  • The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook
  • Three Times Lucky (Tupelo Landing, #1)
  • Waiting for the Magic
  • Splendors and Glooms
  • Each Kindness
  • A Dog Called Homeless
  • Fake Mustache
  • The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
  • Absolutely Almost
  • Liar & Spy
  • Hound Dog True
  • Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
  • Flying the Dragon
  • Looking at Lincoln
  • The Crossover
  • The Year of the Book
Applegate was born in Michigan in 1956. Since then she has lived in Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, and after living in Pelago, Italy for a year, she has moved back to Southern California. She has an eleven year old son named Jake Mates, although she says the Animorph leader is not named after him. In 2003 she and her husband, Michael Grant, her co-author on many p ...more
More about Katherine Applegate...
The Invasion (Animorphs, #1) Beach Blondes: June Dreams, July's Promise, August Magic (Summer, #1-3) The Visitor (Animorphs, #2) The Encounter (Animorphs, #3) The Message (Animorphs, #4)

Share This Book

“Memories are precious ... they help tell us who we are.” 71 likes
“I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do.” 61 likes
More quotes…