Applegate, Katherine. 2012. The One and Only Ivan. Harper: New York, NY. ISBN: 978‐0‐06‐1992261.
The One and Only Ivan takes place in a Mall off the highway, where a small makeshift circus calls home. Ivan is a silverback gorilla who lives in this circus and has been the center attraction of the mall for quite some time. During his stay at the circus, he has made friends with Stella the older elephant and Bob the stray dog who visits at night. Ivan is a curious gorilla who is a "famed" artist and loves to create artwork for the night custodian's daughter Julie. The circus owner "Mack" has been struggling with the steady decline of mall visitors and is not able to properly take care of the animals because of the decline. In efforts to improve the mall circus, he decides to buy a baby elephant named Ruby. Stella immediately takes in the frightened elephant and treats her as if she was her own. As time goes on Stella becomes very ill from a foot wound and ends up passing away. Before dying, she asks Ivan to help free Ruby by finding a way to get her out of the circus. Through Ivan's multiple attempts and getting Julie's help, he is successful in completing this task. Ruby and other animals make it to the zoo and eventually Ivan is able to move there as well. This story is about friendship and struggle. It also shows you that if there is a will then there is a way. By the end of the book everyone will fall in love with Ivan and cheer him on as he goes through his efforts to rescue Ruby.
I would highly recommend this book to students ages 8 and up. Any animal lover is sure to love this book and would be excited to know that this was based on a true story. Students will be encouraged to go and even visit the real Ivan at the Atlanta zoo and see how he is doing. This story provides a realistic example for students to see where story ideas can come from, and they can even work on comparing the fictional story to the real life version. The One and Only Ivan is a must read for all!