The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate: An 11 yr. old’s Review

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

The One and Only Ivan by Katharine Applegate is one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. And believe me, I may only be an eleven year old, but I’ve read a LOT of them

The One and Only Ivan had pretty much everything a good story needs—emotion and hopefulness and heartbreak. The author had me humming HOME (by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes) halfway through the book.

Ivan is based on a true story about a gorilla that really lived in an abusive shopping center slash zoo. He made many friends there, including a stray dog and an old elephant named Stella. The janitor and his daughter were Ivan’s buddies/comrades/amigos as well.  In spite of terrible conditions and cramped quarter, Ivan and his friends managed to have an interesting life.

Did I mention Ivan was an artistic gorilla? From birth, in the jungle, Ivan painted with dirt and mud. In the shopping center, he learned to use art supplies to paint and draw amazing, expressive pictures.

Eventually, a new baby elephant comes into Ivan’s life. Just like Ivan, Ruby had been kidnapped and torn from her family. Hunters killed both their parents. Ivan had also lost his own sister. Before Stella to elephant died, Ivan made a promise to take care of Ruby. He is determined to give Ruby a better future. He must find a way to get her (and the rest of his animal friends) out of the mall and into a real zoo, the kind of place where humans make amends for their cruel treatment of animals.

Ivan decides to use his artistic abilities to reach his goal…but you’ll have to read the rest to find out if he succeeds.

All in all, I think this was an absolutely extraordinary verse novel. I highly recommend you pick it up. I’m thankful the nice people at HarperCollins gave my mom and I a review copy!

Hungry for more?

Try my mom’s recipe for Banana Pudding. Yummo.


3 reg. sized boxes instant vanilla pudding mix

5 cups milk

8 ounces sour cream (yeah, you read that right)

12 ounces Cool Whip

2 boxes vanilla wafers

10 bananas

In a large bowl, blend pudding mix with milk (use a wire whisk). Add sour cream and half the cool whip. Mix well. Set aside. In a large bowl or dish, layer in the following order: cookies, bananas and pudding mixture. Top with remaining cool whip.


  1. cat woods says:

    Love Miss Applegate, and your 11 year old review makes me hungry for both the bookn and the bread. Thanks for the great post!

  2. jmartinlibrary says:

    Thanks, Cat! HIs enthusiasm for the book made me read it and it truly is a remarkable novel.

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