The One and Only Ivan

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Title: The One and Only Ivan

Author(s): Katherine Applegate

Illustrator/Photographer: Patricia Castelao

Publisher and Year: 2012, HarperCollins

Number of pages: 320

Tags/Themes: Kasey Reaber, Fiction, Animals, Chapter Book, Newbery Medal, Emotion, Friendship, 3-5

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  This book is about a silverback gorilla named Ivan. He was captured when he was little and now lives at a run down mall. The mall rarely gets any visitors so Ivan and his friends Stella the elephant and Bob the stray dog, get bored very easily. Throughout this story Stella is very ill but their owner, Mack, does not want to pay for a vet since they are low on funds. Stella used to do all of these tricks for Mack in there daily shows but since Stella is ill she is not able to perform anymore. Mack then decides that it is a good idea to bring in a new animal. He decides to bring in Ruby, a baby elephant. Ruby becomes very attached to Stella since they were both taken from their homes. Stella’s illness worsen and shortly after dies. On her death bed Stella makes Ivan promise to take care of Ruby and to make sure that she does not spend her life in here like she did. Ivan agrees to this but was not aware of how difficult it would be. Julia, the maintenance man’s daughter, has a special interest in Ivan and they both share a love for art. Julia gives Ivan different writing materials and paper so that Ivan can make his artwork. Mack would sell Ivan’s masterpieces in the gift shop. One day, Ivan has a grand plan to help get Ruby out of here. He makes a giant puzzle with the materials from Julia and on it he draws Ruby in a zoo and the word “HOME.” He gives the pieces to Julia so she can figure out his plan. After a couple of tries she figures it out! In the end, Ivan freed all of the animals there and they were sent to the zoo to be reunited with others of their kind. At the beginning, there is a glossary for words or phrases that students might not know while reading this book. This is a helpful tool for students to look at before reading.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is a fairly easy read for students. There is not a ton of words on the pages and the text is not very small. This is full of emotional power. The animals are not treated very well and Ivan does everything he can to protect Ruby and get her to freedom. This book is based off of a true story. It really shows determination, friendship, and compassion. Students are able to see how having hope is a powerful thing.

Interdisciplinary Connections: I think that this text could be used to reinforce content from math, geography, and science. Ivan kept tallies of how long he was in his domain. Students could understand the importance of tallies and then make tally charts. Students could explore different parts of the words and where animals live and how they are in captivity. Students can even compare and contrast animals in captivity with wild animals.

Other Information: I really enjoyed this book! It was interesting to see how this was based off of a true story and how Ivan did not give up. It is an inspirational read for students and really allows them to believe in a happy ending. I think that this book would be a good read for any student. There are some illustrations throughout which gives the reader a sense of what the animals and people look like.

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