Today I finished reading The One and Only Ivan. I read this book aloud to my rising 6th grader who when I paused would say “Just one more chapter…please!” and then towards the end of the book changed to “NO! You can’t stop now!” As a result, the 300 page book was finished in less than 24 hours.
Although I haven’t Googled it to see if I am correct I would say the theme of the book is that living things want and need others to help them through life — no one should be a one and only. It is a wonderful story of friendship and compassion.
This book won the 2013 Newberry Award and is leveled at F&P S or DRA 40. It looks like it will also become a Disney movie in the future. It is an easy and quick read as Applegate writes in short sentences and short chapters.
I think the book could be used with students by highlighting the following chapters:
- Glossary – The author puts a glossary at the BEGINNING of the book. This could foster a great conversation about WHY.
- Names – (p. 2) – Reading this chapter could foster a discussion on the importance of word choice.
- TV (p. 23) – Ivan a gorilla quickly understands how romance and western movies work after watching them on his TV. This can easily start off a beginning of the year conversation about genres.
- Jambo (p.63) – An important mini-story within the larger story that shares the tension between humans and animals in captivity. This could spark a discussion on point of view.
My book had extras added to the end to include Applegate’s Newberry Medal acceptance speech. It was a wonderful speech and by reading it I learned that the story was based on a REAL gorilla who lived in a shopping mall in Washington.
Here is a link to an NPR interview with the author: http://www.npr.org/2013/06/13/191053327/headline-here