The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.
Publisher: New York : Harper, [2012], ©2012
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780061992254
Branch Call Number: FICTION App
Description: 305 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Castelao, Patricia


From Library Staff

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.

Ivan, a silverback gorilla who lives in a run-down mall zoo, is forever changed when a baby elephant named Ruby moves into the cage next door.

A heartbreaking story based on the true events in the life of Ivan, a poor gorilla who was kept in a mall zoo.

If you've ever visited a roadside animal park or other form of animal entertainment, this book will cause you to stop and think. There are some sad and difficult parts but ultimately a happy ending.

When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a run-down, circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant, he decides that he must find her a better life.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Sep 14, 2019

This is such an amazing story. I'm glad I was able to listen to the e-audiobook. The reader was great and really brought the characters to life. I loved Ivan and how he did everything he could for Ruby. So Sweet!

May 06, 2019

Right up there with "Waiting for the Magic"

liljables Mar 19, 2019

It's no surprise that this novel won the coveted Newbery Medal - The One and Only Ivan truly is a remarkable contribution to children's literature. I read this sad and beautiful book in two sittings, and it would have been one if pesky ol' work hadn't gotten in the way. I think this book will appeal to a wide variety of kids; the chapters are short and simply written, so they won't intimidate a tentative reader, but the story is still captivating enough to keep a more voracious reader interested. It could also be a great read-aloud option for younger kids, keeping in mind that some heartbreaking things happen to beloved characters.

I'm looking forward to reading more from Katherine Applegate!

IndyPL_SteveB Jan 29, 2019

Winner of the 2012 Newbery Award for Children’s Literature. I can whole-heartedly recommend this for your children. Ivan is a gorilla, taken from the jungle as a baby and raised by humans, then housed as a display animal at a small shopping mall for many years. His best friends are an old, sick elephant named Stella and a small stray dog named Bob. Ivan draws pictures with crayons which sell for $25.00 each in the mall gift shop. Life is boring and looks to stay that way, until the mall owner brings in Ruby, a baby elephant, to draw more visitors to the mall.
The story is told from Ivan’s point of view, in short, simple sentences, no more than 3 sentences per paragraph. The author is able to make that viewpoint believable and sympathetic. The gorilla sees that some humans treat him well and some treat him badly. He has an intellect and enjoys making art, but he does not seem “human.” Creating empathy with animals is a skill in writing. *The One and Only Ivan* is one of the few books since *Black Beauty* to do it so well and to seem like a realistic novel, not a fantasy. This should become a very popular novel for children, maybe a long-term classic itself.

ArapahoeMarcia Nov 28, 2018

A heartfelt story of the lives of animals held in captivity and their efforts change their fate.

Great book! Written by one of my favourite authors, it would appeal to children AND adults. Chapters are short, as Ivan, the caged gorilla living in a highway-exit-arcade-tourist-attraction, makes observations about his world. Ivan is a gorilla of few words but he is quite profound and indeed comical. Children will read this story because of the book’s setting, but adults will enjoy the deeper levels. The author has given voice to a true story of a
gorilla in captivity that eventually is given a new life in a wildlife zoo. Well written! And also available as an ebook. (submitted by SMC)

Aug 28, 2018

The One and Only Ivan is based on a touching true story about a gorilla who lived in a domain at a circus shopping mall. In the book, Ivan the gorilla meets Ruby, a curious and talkative baby elephant who has been added to the circus. After years of confinement, the experience of loss and sorrow, Ivan is determined to save Ruby's life. In saying this, The One and Only Ivan is a true work of art that not only has an amazing story behind it, but was also written very precisely and beautifully. It was like reading straight from a real gorilla's perspective, simple yet intricate. I felt as though I was reading a series of poems: emotional and sort of relatable although coming from a gorilla's perspective. Additionally, The One and Only Ivan is a children's literature but may be enjoyed by a variety of readers. This story may not interest everyone as it is a realistic-fiction story with not much action involved. To summarize, The One and Only Ivan is an excellent children/tween read that also has deep meaning. Rate 4.5/5 @ReadingIceCream of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Aug 24, 2018

This book is very inspiring, and also gives off a good vibe. I recommend children to read and enjoy this book.

Aug 22, 2018

Are you a fan of this book? Well guess what (I'm going to explode!) they are having a movie! And Angelina Jollie is playing Stella!!!!!!

Jul 04, 2018

This book is just plain great! It is mainly based for children ages 8-11. It includes lots of detail and poetic scenes, which can also be a great source to help you improve your own writing!
(For example, you get inspired by something and try to recreate it in your signature way!)

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

indigo_elephant_500 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 99

May 19, 2018

Number1HorseLover thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

May 18, 2018

blacktealatte thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

May 06, 2018

Hiny thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over

Mar 10, 2018

red_cat_9776 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 7 and 12

Feb 12, 2018

daisy0001 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 15

Jul 26, 2017

Divya8720 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Nov 28, 2016

erica100 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Aug 15, 2016

Aqua1633 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

Jul 18, 2016

LifeLoverSam thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

View All Ages


Add a Quote
May 19, 2018

She's far away, belly deep in tall grass with others by her side.
"She's here, Stella," I whisper. " RUby's safe. Just like I promised."
I call to Ruby but the wind tugs at my words and I know she'll never hear me.
Still Ruby pauses for a second, her ears spread wide like tiny sails.
Then, with lumbering grace, she moves on through the grass.

May 19, 2018

I miss my old cage.

I miss my art.

But most of all, I miss Bob.

My belly's cold without him.

Nov 28, 2016

"Hello, I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It's not as easy as it looks."

Aug 15, 2016

"But here, I had no one to protect"

Aug 15, 2016

"And it's not a domain," I add.

I pause, and then I say it. "It's a cage"

Jul 13, 2016

"My name is Ivan"
"I live in a glass box"

Aug 15, 2015

"I nap when I can."

May 05, 2015

"I gaze at the huge, shadowy box, and suddenly I understand how Ruby feels. I don't want to go into that box.

The last time I was in a box, my sister died."

JCLChrisK Apr 30, 2013

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."

JCLChrisK Apr 30, 2013

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.

View All Quotes


Add a Summary
Jun 10, 2015

"The One and Only Ivan" is a novel by Katherine Applegate. Ivan is a silverback gorilla who lives in a stationary circus. Ivan is good friends with the other animals in the circus, especially Stella the elephant and Bob, a stray dog. When Stella dies, Ivan makes a promise to save her young friend, Ruby, from a life of captivity. It takes some time, but Ivan and Ruby are eventually moved to a zoo. "The One and Only Ivan" is a book of great courage and hope.

Jul 25, 2014

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.

Jul 07, 2013

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.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors


Subject Headings

LibraryThing Series Information


Find it at CRRL

To Top