Book Review: The One And Only Ivan (An Animal’s Courageous Fight for Freedom)

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Ivan Book Cover-001

Book by: Katherine Applegate. Published On: January 17 2012

It’s never to late to be what you might have been.

-George Eliot

Animals are like humans. They deserve a life like ours.They don’t need a house, a laptop, a phone. They just like to live in the wild. Eat fruits, sleep on grass. Like Gorillas, they swing from one tree to another. They’re so in-tune with nature. They are not meant to be sitting in one room and watching TV. They’re more active than we are. Living in a human world is not for them. So why do humans need to capture them and make them perform in a circus (or something similar)? Entertainment? Do we not have so many other means to entertain ourselves?

The One And Only Ivan

In the book The One And Only Ivan a Gorilla named Ivan or The Mighty Silver back   is captured in a Mall called “The Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. He lives most part of his life there – for Nine Thousand Eight  Hundred and Seventy Six Days.

He watches every move of a human from his small Cage. He performs on the stage three times in a day for 365 days. This is a heart warming story of Freedom, Friendship and a courageous fight for freedom. Every word you read will bring tears.

Everything goes the same until a small and cute baby elephant called Ruby comes. That poor little almost new born baby is to perform, too everyday, and if he doesn’t or stops while performing for a minute she is hit by a claw stick by Mack the Boss of Exit 8 Big Top Mall And Video Arcade. Ivan and his friend Stella  (who is captured in the cage too next to Ivan’s cage)she loves Ruby so much and never got a chance to be a mother(because she was never able to be free in the wild). She and Ivan are  concerned about poor Ruby and want to rescue her.

Mamma sobbed while reading this book to me. It was really heart melting. I highly recommend you to read this book. It’s not only for children; adults will love reading it too!

I can read it again and again. Once i read it with mamma, she told me to read it once again at my own pace. Now that i know the story i can just relish the writing. And maybe the third time i can read it again just to see how the author has written those words and how i can can write it too in my own way.

It’s interesting, when you read this book you see your own human world from an animal’s perspective. To see what’s going on on an animal’s mind.

The book’s writing is simple, yet thought -provoking.

I found some interesting trailers that will give you more idea about the book and inspire you to read it.

Trailer One

Trailer Two

And, now some beautiful and meaningful lines from the book ‘The One And Only Ivan’!

  1. Stella (the elephant) says to Ivan: “Your gorilla hearts are made of ice Ivan,” she said, her eyes glittering. “Ours are made of fire”.
  2. Ivan says: “Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part.” 
  3. Ivan says this looking at his Human friend Julia doing homework: “Homework, I have discovered, involves a sharp pencil and thick books and long sighs.” 
  4. Ivan says: “Memories are precious … they help tell us who we are.” 

Talking about Animals, Sufiana loves animals and i wrote about this in my earlier post. Did you check it out?-A Serene Spot In Nature: Where The Wildflowers Grow.


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  1. Sangeetha Shankar says:

    Hi Pari
    It was great reading through your book review. Thanks for recommending this book. I will certainly check it out in our local library. I’m sure Shruthkirti and Shreedhari will love it. They too are always moved by stories of animals especially where the animals suffer due to human greed.
    I too always beel a pang of guilt when I vist zoos , aquariums and such other places. I wonder if this is the best way to learn about animals. Sometimes it feels like this quest for too much knowledge is harming our planet so much. You know, in olden times everybody didn’t know everything about animals or sea life . They knew what was in the immediate surroundings and also knew how to take care of it. By building zoos and aqauariums I really wonder if we are causing more harm ? Is this the right way of conservation? Wouldn’t the animals be better off on their own? Also what about the environmental impacts of running a huge zoo or an aquarium? It makes me wonder…
    Shruthkirti has just started to like writing. She has made a small diary for herself and keeps jotting down stuff here and there. She gets frustrated with the know it kind of slows down her thinking ! But she is getting better by leaps and bounds, the most recent writing she produced was her experience of Disneyland.
    I have been wondering? Would you like to be her pen pal? You guys could write to each other through email and exchange your experiences of living in the States and living in beautiful Goa. Or for that matter write about anything to each other. I sure she would love the idea too. I’ve been tinkering with the idea of a pen pal for her for quite some time now but when I came across your blog I feel like you will be the perfect person becoz of your love for writing. And she somewhat knows you too.
    I’ll show her your blog and that might inspire her write more. It’s awesome to see your writing and sharing your life experiences . Your sis is so cute are one lucky girl for sure! :))
    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Lotsa love to all of you

    • Parinita says:

      Hi Sangeeta,
      Thank you. I am so glad to see your long and lovely comment.

      I and mamma completely agree with what you’re saying. We often wonder a lot about this.
      I was also thinking to do a post about why fishes deserve a free/better space than an aquarium, i have seen many aquariums in places i have visited -in restaurants, homes etc. and seen the fishes swimming back and forth in an agitated manner in the small space. They must be feeling very confined. We humans should first test living like this ourselves – in confinement and see how scary and suffocating it feels when you are packed into a small place where you can’t even take a few steps forward. I feel sad for animals living in such cramped spaces – away from their natural habitat. This book -The One and Only Ivan – is really worth reading to understand the emotions of animals. It can bring tears, you should definitely check if it’s in your local library.

      I too first started by writing in lots of diaries- by jotting down all my experiences.

      I adore writing and would love to be your daughter’s pen pal! As i also like collecting stamps:) But i was thinking if we can email each other because sending international post from India takes long to deliver.
      So, emailing can be an option too. But we can start with letters and see how it goes. Let me know what you think.
      I’ll send a mail to you to know your address and send mine.

      It’s great that your daughter likes writing too! yes, focusing on spelling/grammars slows down your flow of writing, but you can get better at it day by day.

      BTW, where do you live in U.S.A? I was just wondering….

      Thank you, I am a lucky girl indeed!

      Lotsa love to all of you too!

      P.S: You can call me Parinita as that’s my real name:)
      Parinita recently posted…These Fleeting Moments With My Baby Sister: A Life-time Opportunity For MeMy Profile

  2. Padma says:

    Hi Pari.

    I just saw this. What a lovely, thoughtful and intuitive blogger you are!! The whole essence of the book captured so nicely in your words.

    I’ve already bought the book on my e-reader and will make sure Pranav reads it too.

    About animals in captivity, domestic animals like dogs, cats, cows are all captive in one way. They are unable to run around at will like their counterparts outside. It become worse in case of wild animals like gorillas, lions, elephants, dolphins etc., who live in great joint families in the wild. Imagine, having to live alone in a cage with strangers when, till the time they were captured, they had their grandma, uncles and parents with them!!

    Seeing your empathy to animals and nature, I can surely guess that your heart is also full of fire. Children’s hearts and minds ablaze with idealism, is what the planet needs right now. May there be more of you in the world Pari.


    • Parinita says:

      Dear Padma-
      Sorry for the delayed reply. I was busy with Diwali.

      Reading this from you is absolutely wonderful. I am so encouraged to write more.

      That’s great that you have One And Only Ivan on your e-reader!

      I completely agree with what you’re saying. Domestic animals are all captive in a way.And, especially, big animals like you said-Gorilla’s, elephants, lions, they live in big families and need to run around in the wild.They don’t deserve themselves in a small cage which isn’t much bigger then the animals own size! You’re right, when they weren’t captured, they had all their family with them! And then, suddenly, one day they all got separated.

      I’m delighted to have you as my blog reader dear Padma.
      Lots of hugs to Pranav, and all of you!

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