The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan

Book Category: Newbery Winner
Author: Katherine Applegate
Illustrator: Patricia Castelao
Copyright: (2012) New York, NY
Publisher: Harper Collins
Summary: This book is about a gorilla named Ivan who lives in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade with his friends, which includes a couple of elephants and a dog. He and his friends live their lives in cages, or domains, while humans stop in and out of the mall every day to look at these animals through glass walls. Ivan hardly remembers his life in the jungle before living in this mall. Throughout the book, Ivan and his friends Stella, Ruby, and Bob have numerous conversations with one another about their past lives and they learn about how important friendship is. Although none of them really want to stay in this mall forever, none of them really want to leave either, because leaving the mall would mean leaving each other.
Suggested Grade Level: 4
Lexile Level: 570L
Accelerated Reader: 4.0
Suggested Delivery: Read Aloud
Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3: Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
5 Key Words to Describe the Book: Imaginative, Friendship-Oriented, Sympathetic, Loving, Compassionate
Electronic Resources:
  1. This website provides students with the opportunity to learn about the “Real Ivan” and his story as well as why the author was so interested in writing a story based on his life:
  2. This website includes a book trailer that can be helpful for students to watch before reading the book to gain background information on the book as well as reviews of the book from other people who have read it:
  3. This website provides background information on the author, Katherine Applegate, and what her intentions were for writing this book:
Key Vocabulary:
  • Domain: territory
  • Silverback: an adult male over 12 years old with an area of silver hair on his back; a figure of authority, responsible for protecting his family
  • Slimy Chimp: an offensive slang term for a human (refers to sweat on hairless skin)
  • Vining: casual play (a reference to vine swinging)
  • Imagination: the ability of the mind to be resourceful or creative
  • Humanity: the qualities that make us human, such as love and compassion
Teaching Suggestions:
  1. Before, During, After-
  • Before: Pre-teach the vocabulary words by playing a matching game. The game will include creating a pile of cards that include the vocabulary words and then another pile of cards that include pictures of what the definitions of the words look like. Students will match the cards that have the vocabulary words on them with the cards that have the pictures on them. (Example: Students will match the card with the word “Silverback” on it with the card that has a picture of an actual Silverback on it)
  • During: Students will look at the personality traits and physical characteristics of the main characters throughout the book. They will pay attention to and make note of the characters’ specific traits, what makes each character special and unique, and why they think that the author chose to create each character the way she did. Students will then share and compare their notes with their classmates.
  • After: Students will participate in Reader’s Theater by reading some parts of the book that they can choose. This will improve their fluency and be able to take the role of specific characters from the book. It will also improve their overall comprehension of the book by re-reading some important parts of it.
  1. Writing Activity- The students will write an opinion piece. They will write an essay and express their opinions on whether or not they believe in keeping animals, such as the ones that were in this book, behind bars and glass for humans to look at daily. They will be asked to include an introduction (that includes a thesis), body paragraphs, a conclusion, and specific examples and details from the book to support their reasoning. This piece of writing will provide the students with an opportunity to express their opinions on this issue and possibly persuade and inform others.
Teacher’s Guide:

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