The One and Only Ivan: Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan

Author: Katherine Applegate

Publisher: New York: Harper

Publication Year: 2012

Brief Summary: Ivan is a star at a circus-themed mall, where he has spend the last 27 years alone in a cage.  When his good friend Stella, an aging, dying elephant, makes him promise to take care of the mall’s newest addition, a baby elephant named Ruby, Ivan devises and carries out a plan that will save them all.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

John Newbery Medal, 2013 Winner United States
Amazon Editors’ Picks: Best Books of the Year, 2012
Choices, 2013 ; Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Kirkus Best Children’s Books, 2012
Kirkus Book Review Stars, October 15, 2011
School Library Journal Best Books, 2012
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, January 2012 ; Cahners

Personal Comments: Based on the true story, this book will appeal to animal lovers of all ages.  The book’s easy-to-read text and short chapters will appeal to reluctant/struggling readers and its themes will touch many hearts.  Students might want to research the life of the real Ivan further by going to the Zoo Atlanta web page as well as other sites devoted to him.  The book may also be a good vehicle to discuss zoos, circuses, and the philosophies associated with them.

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library; brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Discuss animals in captivity and the human treatment of animals in general, animal rights, etc.  How were things done in the past?  How are things today?  Discuss similarities/differences…in what ways have we gotten better in our treatment of animals?  In what ways do we still need to improve?  Discuss zoos, circuses, animals kept in home, etc.
  • Research more about some of the animals featured in the book — elephant, gorillas, dogs.  Do elephants really have good memories?  What are some of the characteristics of gorillas?  What are other unlikely animal friendships that you might have read about in the news or in other informational books?
  • Link to book’s official website.

Accessed at: Personal Library

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