• Linda Ulleseit, author

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The One and Only Ivan

imagesA Review by Kayla and Valmic

The book The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, tells about an easygoing gorilla whose view on his life changes when a young elephant, Ruby, arrives at his home–the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.

When Ivan rediscovered his memories of his distant past, it reminded us of the character Sal in the book Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. Sal tried to bury her memories of her mother’s sudden death, just like Ivan hiding away his remembrances of his life in the jungle. Both of these very different characters were in denial about their past in the beginning of their respective books. Later on, a surprising event stirs them up. We wonder exactly why someone would want to hide their memories. We understand that in their moment of grief, it might have seemed like a good way to cure their sadness, but wouldn’t it be easier to just confront the fear and sorrow? Facing the same situation as Ivan, what would you do?

Friendship is a very important thing. In the novel, Ivan makes friends with Julia, a human child who embraces Ivan for who he is. In a way, Julia is like the boy who cares for the mouse, Ralph, in The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary, who takes good care of his mouse even though he might be annoying at times. Ruby, a baby elephant, was saved from being in a miniscule cage for her entire life. We understand that it is unusual for gorillas to become buddies with elephants, but if the bond between Ivan and Ruby had not formed, the story would be completely different. We liked how Katherine Applegate describes the story  from Ivan’s point of view. This way we could understand more about Ivan and how he views his friends. All in all, Ivan’s friends become very important to him.

We wonder how it would be to be locked up in a cage like Ivan. Life must be really boring and dirty in a miniscule cage. The author’s descriptions allowed us to picture tossed banana peels and dirty living conditions. Despite the negatives of Ivan’s life, his buddies always cheer him up. Do you think friends can lighten up any situation? We would easily recommend this novel to anyone who loves friendship tales.

Kayla and Valmic are sixth grade students. They wrote this just as the Newbery Award was announced for this book.

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3 Responses

  1. This is so cool! I feel so sad for Ivan, living in a disgusting cage, and barely having any friends. Ruby and Julia have turned his life around. 🙂

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  2. I finally swiped this book away from my students for a weekend so I could read it. The depth of perception in the character of Ivan is amazing. This is a heartwarming tale of friendship and perseverance. I enjoyed it very much!

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  3. The thing I love about this book is the friendship. Ruby lost her mother, Stella, but Ivan took cared of Ruby until they got to a Zoo. Julia also took cared of Ivan and Ruby. Ivan, Ruby, and Julia backed up each other when they aren’t in such a good mood. This is a heartwarming story of friendship! Good Book!

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