The One and Only Ivan

by Katherine Applegate

Ages: 9 – 12 years (approximately grades 3 – 7)

Ivan is based on a real great silverback gorilla. He lives at the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. He spends his days trying to understand humans and their constant use of words, watching television shows with his dog friend, Bob, talking to his elephant friend, Stella, and drawing with his human friend, Julia. He has food to eat and his domain to sleep in. He is content.

Or is he? When a new animal, Ruby, a baby elephant, comes to the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, everything Ivan thinks he knows is thrown upside down. Hearing about Ruby’s former life with her family before being captured to perform tricks at a cruel road circus reminds Ivan of his own life in the jungle with his family. Reminiscing about the simpler, freer times in the wild, Ivan finally understands how truly trapped he and his friends are. He promises Stella, upon her untimely passing, that he will take care of Ruby and decides that if they are doomed to live a life out of the wild, away from their families, Ivan is convinced it should not be under the Big Top, but in the best place for animals in human captivity: the zoo.

Will Ivan’s daring attempt to free himself and his captive friends from the failing Big Top Mall and Video Arcade succeed, or will he, Ruby, and the others be doomed to a fate of circus frivolity?

This winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal and a 2015 Rebecca Caudill Nominee, The One and Only Ivan is an entrancing tale of friendship, bravery, and overcoming contentedness that fans of Because of Winn Dixie or Zoobreak, or gorilla and zoo enthusiasts will enjoy

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