Saturday, March 8, 2014

The One and Only Ivan

Author:  Katherine Applegate
Illustrator: Patricia Castelao
Published: 2012
Newbery Medal Winner

 Katherin Applegate is like the Lorax, she speaks for animals!  This story is fiction, but some of the characters in her story are based on actual animals and their experiences.

Ivan is a silverback gorilla who has been on display at a mall for years.  He had been born in the wild, but one day he and his sister, Tag, were captured.  While holding Ivan and Tag, his mother was killed and then his father was also killed.  His parents had their hands, feet, and heads chopped off.  Ivan saw an ash tray sold at a shop next to his cage.  The ash tray was a gorilla hand.

Bob and Ivan's stuffed animal, No-Tag
Mack purchases Ivan and keeps him in his home.  Ivan is treated like a child, he is taken to McDonald's is dressed in clothes, and rides in a convertible. Ivan becomes too big eventually to keep in the house so he becomes an exhibit at the mall.  He becomes the Gorilla at Exit 8.

Ruby and Aunt Stella
Ivan lives at this zoo with a few other animals, including a dog named Bob and an elephant named Stella.  George cares for the animals at Mack's zoo and cleans their "domains" or cages.  Julia is George's daughter and she works on her homework and artwork while her father works at the mall zoo.

Business is not going well at the zoo so Mack decides to make a new purchase, a baby elephant named Ruby.  Ruby and Stella form a strong bond and Stella becomes Aunt Stella.  Unfortunately, Stella has an injury on her foot that Mack has refused to treat because it costs money and ends up costing Stella her life.  Before she dies, Ivan promises Stella that he will care for Ruby and give her a better life, a life that does not involve the mall zoo.

The rest of the story is about Ivan's struggle to keep his promise to Stella.

The pictures in the book are soft and rounded.  It is how I would describe the animal characters in this book - soft.  I didn't expect all of the animals to be so kind and caring towards each other.  Emotion is evident on the animals' faces and I felt for the animals.  I was not expecting to like a book with talking animals, but I did.  This is a book that needs to be in my classroom library.  My students will want to read this book.

I'm sorry that I read this book so quickly.  I'm rushing through books to make sure I read everything I need to read for class, but I'd like to read  through many of these more slowly and savor each one.  This is another one on my list for this summer!

The big push in our district now is project-based learning.  This book would be great for the beginnings of a project.  Children love animals and are always willing to help them.  We could read this book and then research animals that need our help, either locally or not and then design a project, like Julia from the book, to help an animal in need.

Check this book out from your library.
Watch a trailer for the book!
Watch Katherine Applegate answer questions.
The One and Only Ivan lesson plans 
NPR Interview:  Meet the Real Ivan 
Learn about another famous gorilla:  Koko

1 comment:

Kaylee Holt said...

I just finished this book last week, and it was so sad! I love your idea about using this book with project-based learning activities. I am going to consider doing that at the end of the year once testing is all finished. My students are very empathetic towards animals, and they would love to know how to help!