The One and Only Ivan

TheOneAndOnlyIvanThe One and Only Ivan
Written by Katherine Applegate

Publisher’s Summary:
Having spent twenty-seven 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.

Primary Source Pairing:
Ivan’s life at the B&I Mall was one of solitude. The National Geographic documentary “The Urban Gorilla” raised awareness and contributed to the public outcry for better living conditions for Ivan. Fortunately, through the work of many, Ivan was relocated to Zoo Atlanta. The life story of Ivan is one that ends in happiness. After his death at Zoo Atlanta, a video montage was created to honor his time there.  For this primary source pairing, invite students to watch both a segment of the National Geographic documentary “The Urban Gorilla” and the video of Ivan at Zoo Atlanta. Encourage students to make connections between the story of Ivan in the book and the images of Ivan in both videos.

Alternatively, invite students to watch author Katherine Applegate answer questions about her writing process and research about Ivan. As readers, what questions were answered? What questions do you still have?

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see and hear.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What was the purpose of this video?
  • Why was this video created?
  • What feelings or ideas does this video communicate?
  • How does this video connect to the text in The One and Only Ivan?
  • Which video resonates most with you? Why?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“The Urban Gorilla” documentary segment: YouTube
Ivan at Zoo Atlanta: Zoo Atlanta YouTube channel
Questions and Answers with Katherine Applegate: YouTube

Additional Resources:
For more information about Ivan visit the One and Only Ivan website
To read Ivan’s obituary (of sorts), visit the Seattle Times website


To view the primary source pairing for Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, Written by Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by G. Brian Karas, click here.