The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only IvanWritten By: Katherine Applegate
Illustrated By: Patricia Castelao

Sometimes the endurance of simplicity is the most complicated thing of all. Based on a true story, Katherine Applegate has welcomed us into the seemingly easy life of a gorilla living in captivity as an attraction at a mall. It sounds like fiction, and although the book is in that category, my last sentence is true. Ivan did endure that life. Though we will never know what he would really have to say about it, the voice in this book will draw you in and hold you until the very last page. Then, if you are like me, you will wish nothing less than to find him and see him for yourself. If you happen to be a reader that is normally not interested in stories about the lives of animals, I challenge you to read the first page… if you still put it down, I would love to hear from you and know your thoughts.

Discussion/Project Ideas:
1. Research the Animal Welfare Act of 1966. Does Ivan’s situation fall under its protection? Defend your position with facts.
2. Write a convincing letter to Mack asking for Ivan’s freedom to live in a better place. Where would it be?
3. Research where some of the wild animals in America originally came from. How did they become available for sale. Remember, nothing can be purchased if it is not offered for sale. Can a difference be made on the other end of the business? What is your plan.
4. Compare/contrast zoos and circuses.