The One and Only Ivan

Lily Fannon


Curious about the outside world, Ivan the silverback gorilla, has been trapped in the “Big Top Mall” sense he was still a young gorilla. Written by Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan, is about a gorilla who has been living with humans for almost all of his life. While with the humans Ivan learned how to get in trouble. For example, when Ivan was staying with the Big Top Mall Circuses owner Mack, “Ivan broke a tv, one crib, 46 glasses. 7 lamps, one couch, three shower curtains, three shower curtain rods, one blender, one radio, and three of his own toes” (130-131) While living with Mack and Helen, Ivan was treated like a human child. Ivan is a true artiste, when he lived with his gorilla family, he always took mud and drew on the rocks, he was named “Mud.” Even at the “Big Top mall” Ivan is an artiste. A girl named Julia comes and gives him art supplies everyday. Ivan draws all sorts of things but mostly bananas. Ivan was born in Central Africa, Ivan always play tag with his twin sister, who was later named “Tag,” Ivan and Tag loved to play together. Ivan and Tag were both captured by humans. Ivan knew that there was going to be a huge change in his life and he let go of his old one, although Tag wasn’t the same. Tag was scared and couldn’t let go. “Somehow I knew that in order to live, I had to let my old life die. But my sister could not let go of our home. It held her like a vine, stretching across the miles, comforting, strangling.” (129)

The book is interesting and shows the struggles of circus animals from the point of view of a captured gorilla. Ivan is curious to know if he is the last of the silverback gorillas because he hasn’t seen another gorilla since he was captured. The One and Only Ivan is a child friendly story and is easy to read. I would recommend this story to anyone past second grade. Even adults could find this story interesting, The One and Only Ivan is very interesting and is full of excitement. I thought that the illustrations were very good and worked well with the text. Overall, The One and Only Ivan is a great story and has an amazing plot.