Common core
Common core

The One and Only Ivan

By Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Patricia Castelao

Soon to be a major motion picture!

Winner of the Newbery Medal and a #1 New York Times bestseller

This stirring and unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendships. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated novel is told from the point of view of Ivan himself.

Having spent 27 years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.

The One and Only Ivan was hailed as a best book of the year by Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Amazon, demonstrating it is a true classic in the making.

In the tradition of timeless stories like Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan's unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope. An author's note depicts the differences between the fictional story and true events.

Plus don't miss The One and Only Bob, Katherine Applegate's return to the world of Ivan, Bob, and Ruby, coming in 2020!

  • Grade level: 4
  • Interest Level: 3-8
  • Guided Reading Level: R


Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character?s thoughts, words, or actions). Compare and contrast the points of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

How does point of view contribute to the authenticity of a story? Write an explanatory text telling how the author uses point of view in the book and how you as the reader were impacted. RL.4.6, W.4.2

How do authors develop characterization, and how does characterization enhance the reader?s understanding of the character?s personality? RL.4.3

How does the author use figurative language through the character?s eon? RL.4.1, RL.4.4


The One and Only Ivan Teaching Guide

This teaching guide for Newbery Medal winner The One and Only Ivan includes discussion questions, extension activities, and information about the real gorilla on which the story is based. The guide aligns with Common Core standards for grades 4-6 and covers such concepts as comparing and contrasting, point of view, figurative language, determining theme, and more. [PDF]

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  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Imprint: HarperCollins
  • Format: Hardcover
  • On Sale: 11/30/-0001
  • ISBN: 9780061992254
  • ISBN 10: 0061992259
  • ISBN 13: 9780061992254
  • Pages: 320
  • Trim Size: 5.50 x 7.75 in
  • Subcategory:
  • Juvenile Fiction / Animals / Zoos
  • Juvenile Fiction / Social Issues / Friendship
  • Juvenile Fiction / Animals / Apes, Monkeys, etc.

School Library Journal (starred review)★ “Will capture readers’ hearts and never let go. A must have.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)★ “Animal-loving youngsters and their adults will find plenty of food for thought in Ivan’s extraordinary story.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)★ “Exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.”

Shelf Awareness"Discover an animal hero that will take his place with other courageous and beloved animals such as Babe, Mrs. Frisby, Charlotte and Wilbur. Adults reading this aloud with children will find it just as rewarding."

The Horn Book“Important.”

Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor author of The Wednesday Wars"The One and Only Ivan will break your heart-and then, against all odds, mend it again. In cheering for Ivan and his friends, we cheer for our own humanity and our own possibilities. Read this."

Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medal-winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall"A beautifully written, intelligent and brave book. You will never look at the relationship of humans and animals in the same way again. Quite simply, this story is life changing."

Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath"Katherine Applegate's beautiful, life-affirming story will soar directly from Ivan's heart into your own. Read it out loud. Read it alone. Read it."

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