Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The One and Only Ivan

Castelao, Patricia (Illustrator)
HarperCollins 2015. 310 pages
First published: 2012
ISBN: 9780062135797 (paperback)
9780061992254 (hardcover)
9780062101983 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, dialogue, point of view, setting, structures and features

Award

Newbery Medal – 2013

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

In this thoughtful and clever book about rights for animals in captivity, the compelling voice of Ivan the gorilla commands attention: “Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows peels are the best part.”

Streamlined language conveys Ivan’s inner thoughts (“Gorillas are not complainers. We’re dreamers, poets, philosophers, nap takers”), his friendships with other animals (captive and stray) and a girl who shares his interest in drawing (“My works sell for twenty dollars apiece … at the gift shop”)—all while describing the poignant details of Ivan’s deprived environment: “I kick at my tire swing. ‘I think I may be a little tired of my domain.’ ‘That’s because it’s a cage,’ Bob tells me. Bob is not always tactful.”

Brief paragraphs and spacious typesetting create a gorilla-paced rhythm that also encourages reading comprehension. Issues of animal neglect and abuse are addressed through Stella the elephant’s death and young Ruby elephant’s training. Ivan’s own character arc moves from resignation to responsibility, as he initiates a plan for Ruby’s salvation. In the end, they are both given new lives, with fellows of their own species, in a properly equipped zoo: “Is there anything sweeter than the touch of another as she pulls a dead bug from your fur?”

  •  

    Research silverback gorillas or elephants and share five facts in a slide presentation.

  •  

    Take an online virtual tour of a zoo. Make a list of your observations of the animals and discuss them with a partner.

  •  Pretend you are Ivan and create an original painting of your own. Explain your painting to the class.
  •  

    Imagine you are an animal in a zoo. Write a dialogue between you and the other animals. What are you seeing and thinking as visitors pass by?

  •  

    Research news articles about Ivan and the Big Top Mall. Discuss whether the novel gave a fair portrayal of what really happened. How would Ivan’s life have been different had he not been captured? Debate whether keeping animals in captivity is the same as having a pet.

  •  

    Do animals that live in zoos and circuses have it better or worse than animals in the wild? Find a partner who shares your opinion and use resources to gather support for your argument. Find two classmates who believe the opposite and hold a debate.

  •  Using brief descriptions, keywords and relevant adjectives, describe the following characters as you read: Ivan, Stella, Mack, Julia, Ruby, George and Bob. Adjust your descriptions as the characters evolve.
  •  Using the same point of view as in the novel, write an epilogue describing the day Ivan and Ruby are physically reunited at the zoo.
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Media Literacy
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Sciences