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The One and Only Ivan

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  83,998 Ratings  ·  9,243 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
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Sunny Yes I can read this book, it's very fun and exciting too. When I read this book it's like I was in the story too!!

Community Reviews

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Jul 24, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it it was amazing
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
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
Whitney Atkinson
Dec 20, 2015 Whitney Atkinson rated it really liked it
This book is so real. It's almost too deep for a children's book. Even though it's about talking animals and Ivan's complexity of thought could be a little misleading, this book touches on so many great themes both superficial toward children, but also in general about humanity, if you're mature enough to understand it. This book was cute, sad, and something very new to me. I adored it and it is such a fast read that I highly recommend it!
Alberto Villarreal
May 19, 2016 Alberto Villarreal rated it liked it
Sherry Philippus
Apr 03, 2012 Sherry Philippus rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 28, 2016 Carmen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kids; Parents
"Everyone has parents," Bob explains. "It's unavoidable."

I started out this review with a funny quote - but this is NOT a funny book. It's one of those emotionally manipulative sad books about animals. A seven-year-old girl personally recommended this to me. Little kids LOVE emotionally manipulative sad books about animals. Charlotte's Web, Black Beauty, Old Yeller, Shiloh, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Cat Who Went to Heaven etc. etc. You can add this book to the list.

This is based (loosely) on
Feb 03, 2016 Brina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
I have not read a middle grade children's book in a long time, and I am glad I picked up Ivan for my kids. Ivan is the fictionalized tale of Ivan the lowland gorilla who lived in wretched conditions in a shopping mall for 27 years and then later moved to the Atlanta zoo. Kristina Applegate does a wonderful job giving Ivan and his friends their inner voices as they contemplate life in captivity and what it means to be a good or a bad human. I think this book is appropriate for elementary aged chi ...more
Juliana Zapata
Sep 03, 2015 Juliana Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Una historia muy conmovedora, con unos personajes que se ganan tu corazón y una enseñanza muy bonita. Una lectura ligera, fácil y rápida. Me ha gustado bastante la historia de Iván.

Reseña Completa:
Mar 13, 2013 Trudi rated it really liked it
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,
Kyoko SWords
Apr 02, 2016 Kyoko SWords rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este fue el último libro que leí en marzo, pero decidí esperar unos días para no escribir la reseña en "caliente".
Esta es una novela sobrecogedora, esperanzadora pero muy cruel. Desde la voz de Iván, este gorila inteligente y luchador, encontramos nuevamente a la humanidad en su mejor y peor versión. Las contradicciones del ser humano cuando la palabra humanidad le queda grande, son muchas y muy difíciles de reconocer. Una novela para reflexionar sobre quién es realmente la bestia no pensante: l
Stella  ☢FAYZ☢ Chen
May 25, 2012 Stella ☢FAYZ☢ Chen rated it it was amazing
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
Shannon (leaninglights)
May 15, 2016 Shannon (leaninglights) rated it it was amazing
My goodness! This book is gorgeous and so inspirational! It's based on a true story and I just got all choked up at the end! Love this sweet story <3
Lindsey Rey
Mar 31, 2015 Lindsey Rey rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2015
This was the absolute CUTEST!!!!!
Andrea Izquierdo
Jun 26, 2015 Andrea Izquierdo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, junio
No tengo palabras para describir este libro. 5/5 y directo a mis favoritos.
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
Jul 12, 2014 Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship} rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 26, 2016 Kelli rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s, audio
This award-winning middle grade story is based in truth. The structure is different with it's very short chapters/thoughts each presented with a heading/title. This fascinating approach lends a believable voice to our wise gorilla narrator, who speaks simply but understands deeply. The structure, however, did not make for a great listening experience. Long pauses between each "chapter" coupled with the many "chapter titles" made for an odd and disjointed listening experience. Though the reader v ...more
“Human can surprise you sometimes. An unpredictable species, Homo sapiens”

----Katherine Applegate

Katherine Applegate, a multiple award-winning American author, has penned a deeply moving tale about an adult gorilla living inside a glass cage in a mall in America, in her book, The One and Only Ivan. Inspired from real-life events, the author pens a heart-breaking yet thoroughly entertaining story about a gorilla and his friends and his mission to find freedom, and mind it, this book is not on
Jan 09, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Diane S ☔
Jul 18, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Absolutely adorable, wise, sad and so many other adjectives all meaning very good. The friendships and inner voices of these animals were amazing. I think that some of the children would not understand but reading this as an adult they show such irony and wisdom. Hoping to read this to my grandchildren when they come in a couple of weeks.
Dec 12, 2015 Kristen rated it it was amazing
5/5 stars

The Skinny:

Ivan, a lonely silverback gorilla, has lived in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade for 27 years. Ivan’s only friends are an elephant named Stella, A small dog named Bob, and a human girl named Julie. Ivan is content in his domain (as he calls it), because he does not really know any differently. One day, a new animal arrives at the struggling Big Top Mall. Ruby, a baby elephant awakens something within Ivan. Suddenly his domain doesn’t seem so warm anymore; now it seems
Feb 28, 2015 Josu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-febrero
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.
Steven Stickler
May 22, 2012 Steven Stickler rated it it was amazing
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?

Oct 07, 2016 Tanya rated it it was amazing
Wow!!! What a wonderful story!!! I picked this out of the blue I didn't realize it was a "kids" book but it didn't feel like it. I loved it!!! This book is for everyone.
Nov 18, 2012 Greg rated it really liked it
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
Mar 06, 2012 Betsy rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 03, 2016 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read a short and sweet story today. Some fluff. What I didn't realize was that this book isn't fluff. It's heartbreaking and cruel and true and one of the most important stories for children (and adults) I've ever read.

The story is about Ivan, a silverback gorilla who lives in a mall. The book is based on a real gorilla who was locked up in a cage of a Washington mall for 27 years before public awareness finally grew and people demanded that he be brought to a zoo (in Atlanta) at lea
Oct 11, 2014 May rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: estantería
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
Jenn Estepp
Jan 25, 2016 Jenn Estepp rated it really liked it
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
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
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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...

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“Memories are precious ... they help tell us who we are.” 104 likes
“I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do.” 92 likes
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