The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Click here to view this book in Goodreads.

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Over the past few years, I have grown a distaste for animal books. Why? I’m not completely sure. So, when I found this book, I was hesitant. However, I’d heard too many good things about it to not give it a shot. I was shocked. Never have I been brought to tears by a book crudely written from the perspective of a caged, silver-backed gorilla. It was truly refreshing!


This story is so cute. I initially thought that it was strictly a children’s book by the way that it was written is very choppy and broken. However, I quickly realized that that was just how the author imagined the gorilla’s thoughts to be. The gorilla’s thoughts weren’t as fluent and sensical as humans, but there was still a strong connection between his heart and his mind to be able to tell his story. It was wonderful! Katherine Applegate perfectly presented this story. It was so poignant and heartwarming!


Now seeing as this book is entirely from a gorilla’s point of view, I did not get a deep, intricate revelation of each and every character. However, the characters were very well formed considering…the gorilla.


The message in this book was also super sweet. It was about how we should take care of the animals that we share this planet with. It gave a glimpse into the atrocities of killing animal families for sport. However, it did go a little overboard. If I read this as a kid, I would be under the impression that animals were as important as humans. There is one part where a crowd protests the abuse of one of the characters and attention is brought to the phrase, “Elephants are people, too”. This is completely untrue and can give impressionable children the wrong idea. This is the only negative that I can find in this book.


Triggers: animal abuse, animal murder, and mentions of alcohol.


Overall, this is a wonderful, sweet read for all ages, but mostly kids. I would definitely recommend it!


Just so y’all know, this is a book that I would recommend you NOT to turn your nose up at. It is really sweet! Also, do y’all have any GOOD animal books y’all could recommend?

Thanks for reading, folks! See you on Friday! God bless you! Ciao.

Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.

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9 thoughts on “The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate”

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