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The One and Only Ivan


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About the Author

Katherine Applegate's many books include the Roscoe Riley Rules chapter book series, the picture book The Buffalo Storm, and the award-winning novel Home of the Brave. With her husband, Michael Grant, she wrote the hugely popular series Animorphs, which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.

Katherine was inspired to write The One and Only Ivan after reading about the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The real Ivan lived alone in a tiny cage for twenty-seven years at a shopping mall before being moved to Zoo Atlanta after a public outcry. He was a beloved celebrity at the zoo, which houses the nation's largest collection of western lowland gorillas. Ivan was well known for his paintings, which he "signed" with a thumbprint.

Katherine lives in California with her husband and two children.


"Hello, I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It's not as easy as it looks." This is the introduction that readers receive to Ivan, who lives in confinement at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. But Ivan doesn't mind living there. In fact, he doesn't miss his previous life in the wild-until a young elephant named Ruby arrives and changes his outlook. Narrator Adam Grupper is gruff in his portrayal of Ivan, capturing the ape's voice and unique perspective. Although there is no measurable shift in Grupper's delivery to match the transformation of the book's protagonist, his approach will delight young listeners. Ages 8-12. A HarperCollins hardcover. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 3-7-Ivan the silverback gorilla has lived a solitary life as the star of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade for 27 years, watching TV and painting still-life representations of objects in his domain. Separated from his family at a very young age, Ivan lived with Mack and his wife as one of the family until he became too large for their home. Now his companions are an elderly elephant named Stella and a stray dog, Bob. Although he forms an attachment to Julia, the daughter of the mall's custodian, Ivan views most humans with distaste, merely tolerating the crowds that come to stare at him daily. Life changes dramatically for Ivan, though, when a baby elephant, Ruby, is bought to replace Stella, who is dying of an old injury and neglect. Prodded by his urge to care for and protect Ruby, Ivan begins remembering what it was like to be a wild gorilla, and how he was violently taken from his family. He begins to see his "domain" as the cage that it is, and he vows to give Ruby a better life than he and Stella had. It is Ivan's art that sets him free, and his courage and resourcefulness that help him fulfill his promise. Adam Grupper gives Ivan a calm, pragmatic voice that aptly conveys his concise, descriptive sentences, while giving similarly unique voices to other characters. Applegate's Newbery winner (HarperCollins, 2012) is based on a true story. Ivan's heart-wrenching tale reminds us that every animal has the right to a safe place called home.-MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"Beautifully written, intelligent, and brave book ... Quite simply, this story is life-changing." - Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medalist

"How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage." - Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

"The characters will capture readers' hearts and never let go. A must-have." - Starred Review, School Library Journal

"Discover an animal hero that will take his place with other courageous and beloved animals such as Babe, Mrs. Frisby, Charlotte and Wilbur." - Shelf Awareness

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