The One and Only Ivan
has become a must-have for my classroom and my home. I was very apprehensive about reading it, because any book involving caged, trapped or abused animals just rips my heart. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to watch Water for Elephants.The plot of this book involves these issues, but it is done in a very mild and appropriate manner. I laughed and cried in equal amounts while reading.
The One and Only Ivan is narrated by Ivan, a mall gorilla with a knack for art. His world changes when Ruby the elephant moves in. Ivan finds something greater to strive for, and a beautiful picture of friendship unfolds.
(Currently only $6 in paperback on Amazon!!! This would be a great book to grab a small set of for a book club, etc.)
Age Range: I’ve had many fifth grade students read this book, and they all enjoyed the read. This book is pegged for grades 3-6 but, I think students as young as 6 could enjoy this book as a read-aloud with parents! I can’t wait to read it to Caroline in a few more years.
Great Quotes: One thing that stuck out to me in this book was all the great quotes! Some are hilarious, some are poignant. So many quotes from this book could be used to stir up discussion and response in your class. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part.” (What a great simile!)
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
“Her eyes hold the pale moon in them, the way a still pond holds stars.” (great imagery!)
There are so many more, but I’m going to stop at three!
Learning Across Genres: Author, Katherine Applegate was inspired to write the novel by a real-life mall gorilla. Now, you can read the true story in this book. Students would love reading this as a nonfiction follow up.
Glossary: The One and Only Ivan begins with a glossary of gorilla terms that Ivan uses throughout the book! What a fun little feature!
As is the case with any novel, this story could be used to teach theme, figurative language, characterization, imagery, etc if you want to use it in your classroom. OR you could just read it to your child and let them enjoy the beautiful story!