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The One and Only Ivan
Transcript of The One and Only Ivan
Ivan reflects upon his own story, expressing how the middle goes on and on. However, as the reader we enter the story as his "middle" comes to an end. The setting of the story is mostly at the mall where Ivan lives (with Stella, Bob, and Ruby). The setting does change briefly at the end of the story, but because it is mostly constant, the majority of the story's conflict is internal to Ivan. Ivan's conflicts include:
Human vs. Gorilla identity
Humans as good or bad
Memory vs. Suppression
At the beginning of the story, Ivan is a shell of what a silverback gorilla should be. He can't remember his life before the mall and listlessly counts the days go by. For the most part he is content with life, but while he enjoys his friends and his drawings, he lacks imagination and spirit.
The arrival of Ruby creates a change in Ivan - she asks questions that force Ivan to think about how life is . Ivan realizes that his life has been meaningless and lonely. Ivan forces himself to remember his painful past and in doing so, acknowledges the need for change. He takes responsibility for Ruby and recognizes that his "domain" is really just a cage. Ivan struggles with his identity as a gorilla in a human's world.
When Ivan is relocated to the zoo, he achieves his dream of freedom and is able to claim his identity as a silverback gorilla. Ivan learns how to be a gorilla in a gorilla's world, thus resolving the human vs gorilla conflict.
-Life is not black and white -
there is no such thing as "good guys" or "bad guys", people are a mix
-Real life doesn't have the perfect ending like in the movies
-It is important to keep hope and not lose spirit.
-We have some level of control over our lives and we can try to improve our situation.
-Expressing yourself through mediums such as
art or storytelling adds joy to life.
Vocabulary and Language
The vocabulary used is mostly simple, with a sprinkling of more difficult words that are easily understandable through context clues. For example: "We stare across the
that separates us". The meaning of "expanse" can be extrapolated through the text.
The author uses language that relates to the jungle, reinforcing the fact that the narrator is a gorilla. For example:
the cars "stampede"
humans shopping "hunt frantically, stalking, pushing grumbling"
calls his cage his "domain"
"Stella is a mountain."
-"A giant sign at its edge beckons them to stop and rest like gazelles at a watering hole."
-Stella's foot hurts, and is brought up frequently before her death.
"Sometimes I'm glad the glass is there."
"Sometimes I wish the glass were not there."
Once Ivan regains memory, he has flashbacks of his old life.
Connection to Readers
In the story, one of the few humans who can understand Ivan is Julia, the daughter of the janitor. Julia understands the pictures Ivan draws and eventually receives the message that he wants to go to the zoo. Julia's connection with Ivan allows for her to advocate for him and Ruby, leading to their better life in the zoo. Julia's character is someone young readers can connect with, and she shows them that being a kid doesn't mean you can't make a difference.
Young readers can also connect to the motif of friendship (demonstrated between Stella, Ivan and Bob).
The Author incorporates humor into the story, which helps keep children interested and engaged. For example, the topic of "me-balls"
-I like how the story recognizes the truths
in life (Life is not black/white, the experiences
can be very painful, friendships/hope keep your soul alive)
-I like how the story is told through a gorilla's eyes - it teaches children to empathize with animals and respect them
By: Katherine Applegate
Illustrated by: Patricia Castelao
Harper Collins Publisher
The One and Only Ivan is a great read that can be appreciated by a wide range of young readers. The text is simple enough for lower Elementary, while the content and themes are dynamic and complex enough for older readers. This book can be compared to classics such as "Charlotte's Web", which also teaches the value of friendship, empathy, and animal rights.
Tone and Mood
I would definitely recommend this book. It offers beautiful examples of great writing and is filled with awesome literary devices. In addition, it has many fantastic life-lessons. I would suggest this reading to any young reader, but especially those interested in gorillas, animal rights or art.
They seem to find it odd,the thought of a gorilla staring at tiny humans in a box. Sometimes I wonder, though: Isn't the way they stare at me, sitting in my tiny box, just as strange?
"My story has a strange shape: a stunted beginning, and endless middle."
The tone of the story changes as Ivan does:
-resigned at the beginning
-angry/sad when things go badly for Stella and Ruby
-hopeful when enacting his plan
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
Discuss with students how Ivan talks like a gorilla and a human. Have the students get in small groups and find examples of when he uses gorilla or human language. Ask them how it might be different if Ivan was a different kind of animal.
Analyze the structure of the texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text relate to each other as a whole.
Talk to the students about how the book is divided up - what do they notice about the organization (glossary, size of chapters). Assign a different chapter to each small group and have them find the main point of their section. Have each group present what they found, then ask the class to talk about why an author might divide a book up in this way.
Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Have students work independently to create a timeline for the story, and have them include the changes Ivan makes as the story progresses. Ask students to connect what happens in the plot to what happens to Ivan. Ask "Why?"