The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Unknown-2The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate



What went on in this story?

The main plot of this story was the life of Ivan, a gorilla who lived in a shopping mall, and the interaction between his animal and human friends.

What parts of the plot did you find to be the most significant?

I thought the most important part of the plot was the viewpoint of the animals toward their own lives, and their relationship between their friends.

Why? I enjoyed the creativity of how the author took us into the mind of a gorilla.

What were the turning points in this plot for you?

The biggest turning point for me was when Stella died. Up until that point I was imagining how I would read it to my class. At that point, my true personality took over and I was in tears. How could I ever read this out loud and actually get through it? I want to, but I don’t think I actually could. Just ask my sons.


What was the most important word in this text? Why?

Promise. It is a human trait that was transposed to an animal. Through the text it seems to be real. The author did an incredible job of making the characters seem real.

My second favorite word was me-balls. I think that would be a clincher to get the boys interested in reading this book. I laughed out loud the first time I read “me-balls.”

What idea or image or situation meant the most to you as you read this text? Why?

I was struck by the effort of Ivan to remember his past to tell Ruby a story. He didn’t want to remember, so he didn’t, until he needed to.

What did the author of this text do that helped you enjoy the story? That made you not enjoy the story?

Putting the text as the thoughts of Ivan was brilliant. I loved the process of thinking as a gorilla might think. I couldn’t find a part that I did not enjoy. Even the sad parts were good.

If this story were to continue, what do you think would happen next? Why?

I think Ivan should be allowed to visit his former friends. It would be nice for Ruby to tell Ivan “Thank you.”

If you could change the ending, would you? How would you change it?

I wouldn’t actually change the ending. It leaves the rest of Ivan’s life up to our own imaginations.

If you were to draw a picture that represented what you found to be important in this text, what would you draw? Why?

I would draw Ivan with his original family. Many of my students are from families that are not an ideal situation. I think they could all relate to this story.

Evaluate this plot on a scale of 1 to 4 with 1 being “Not worth recommending” and 4 being “Everyone should read this” and tell why you gave it the rating you did.

I give it a 4. It is creative. It is worthy of a person’s time. It is relevant. It is funny, and sad, and thought provoking with each page.





 What was the setting of this text?

The setting was in a shopping mall.


Was the setting important to the story? Why?

It is important because it is not where a gorilla or an elephant should live. The story is based on that fact.

How could you change the setting without changing the outcome?

It could have been set in a regular circus as well.

How could you change the setting so that it would affect the outcome?

It could have been set in a location where there was no public interaction.

Does this setting remind you of a place you know?

Yes. The little town of Royal, Nebraska, had a “Zoo” for many years. Although they did their best to take care of the animals, I always felt sorry for them.

Which events in the text are most connected to the setting?

Having Ivan and the other animals on public display made it necessary to have a public setting.

How did the author let you know what the setting was?

One of the first chapters has Ivan give a description of where he lives.

Did the setting affect what the characters did or didn’t do?

Of course. An animal in a confined setting would have a very different life from that of a natural habitat.

If you could talk to the author about the setting of this book, what would you ask?

“Have you ever seen wild animals in an actual mall?”

If you were to write a story, would you choose the setting first, or think about characters and the conflicts they would face and let that dictate the choice of setting?

My characters would come first. Then, depending on who they were, the setting would be chosen. They are ultimately interwoven.



I had a difficult time finding this book, so I bought the Kindle version. It will make reading it to my students easier, because I can use our Promethean board.


It was so delightful and such a nice story, until the plight of the animals was introduced. I was honestly in tears, trying to continue reading, and had to take a break in order to see. How in the world can I read this to my kids, but then again, how can I NOT? I think if I read it a few more times I can get through it. But I doubt it.


This has many things in common with our horse story, especially the idea of being caged or forced to be under the command of a human.


5 thoughts on “The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

  1. Promise was a good word to choose I choose care or caring because of how they took care of each other, me-balls had the kids I read it to in stitches and now it is a favorite word to use. As long as they don’t really do it I am happy. I think we all cried a little but the older kids really enjoyed it and the lessons are valuable.


  2. I really like how you organized your blog this week! It was so easy to follow and a great way to address all the elements of Newberry Award book. I think it is interesting that you are able to relate to the setting of the book with the Royal “zoo.” I could not think of any place like this. I was able to relate to the end because I have been to the San Diego Zoo and Omaha Zoo, but I think both of those are set up so well for the animals and like the zoo at the end of this book!


  3. The Royal Zoo was small, but they really did take good care of their animals. And I can’t wait to hear my boys howl when I read the words “me-balls.” Heaven help me get through this one…. it’s a tear jerker.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s