The One and Only Ivan Book Summary - The One and Only Ivan Book explained in key points

The One and Only Ivan summary

Katherine Applegate

Brief summary

The One and Only Ivan tells the remarkable true story of Ivan, a gorilla kept in captivity at a shopping mall. This heartwarming tale explores friendship, freedom, and the power of hope, reminding readers of the beauty of compassion and the importance of standing up for what is right.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    The One and Only Ivan
    Summary of key ideas

    A Heartwarming Journey of Friendship

    In The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, we begin our journey with Ivan, a silverback gorilla held captive in a shopping mall. Ivan, initially comfortable with his life, spends his days entertaining mall visitors and his nights painting. He shares his space with an old circus elephant named Stella, and they develop a sibling-like bond, providing each other companionship in their shared solitude.

    However, Ivan's perspective of his life changes with the arrival of Ruby, a baby elephant brought in to fill the void left by Stella's death. This change sparks a sense of purpose in Ivan, prompting him to reconsider their living conditions. While he had previously accepted their fate in captivity, he now desires freedom for himself and Ruby.

    Unlikely Heroes and Unbreakable Bonds

    In the middle of the story, we see Ivan setting on a path of self-discovery and transformation. He begins to tap into his natural instincts as a gorilla, which he had long forgotten in his comfortable mall-bound existence. The arrival of Ruby ignites Ivan's protective nature, and he vows to save Ruby from their confined life. In this undertaking, Ivan is aided by Julia, the daughter of the mall's janitor, who recognizes Ivan's intelligent and kind-hearted nature.

    As the story progresses, we witness their plan gradually unfold. Ivan uses his painting skill to convey the message of their desire for freedom. Julia, recognizing the plea in Ivan's paintings, aids in bringing their plight to the public's attention, further fuelling Ivan's hope for a better future.

    A Fight for Freedom and a Place Called Home

    The climax of the story comes when the public is made aware of Ivan and Ruby's plight. Encouraged by the public's response, Ivan devises a plan to escape. His unyielding spirit, coupled with the support of his unexpected human ally, Julia, leads to an elaborate, yet successful escape plan.

    This escape is a significant turning point in Ivan's life. His perseverance and courage not only ensure Ruby's freedom but also pave the way for his own liberation. In the end, Ivan and Ruby are relocated to a zoo, a much-more suitable environment which gives them the freedom and companionship they crave.

    The Power of Hope and Resilience

    In The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate tells an inspiring story about friendship, hope, and the power of resilience. Ivan's journey from passive acceptance to active resistance against his captive conditions serves as a testament to his character growth throughout the story. His compassionate nature and selfless decision to risk his comfortable life for Ruby's freedom are key aspects of his transformation.

    The novel concludes on a hopeful note, offering readers a warm, yet impactful insight into animals' emotions and intellect, and subtly advocating for animal rights. With its unique narrative style, Applegate draws us into a remarkable story, challenging readers to look beyond their preconceived notions of animal intelligence and capacity for emotions.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The One and Only Ivan about?

    The One and Only Ivan is a heartwarming novel about a silverback gorilla named Ivan who lives in a shopping mall. Through Ivan's unique perspective, the book explores themes of friendship, freedom, and the power of imagination. It is a touching story that will make you rethink the way we treat animals and the importance of empathy.

    The One and Only Ivan Review

    The One and Only Ivan (2012) is a heartwarming book that explores the power of friendship, hope, and the importance of freedom. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Based on a true story, it offers a unique and captivating perspective on the inner life of a gorilla, allowing readers to connect with the emotions and experiences of animals.
    • With its beautifully crafted characters and thought-provoking themes, the book delivers a powerful message about compassion and the need for empathy in our society.
    • The author skillfully weaves together humor and heartbreak, creating a compelling narrative that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

    Who should read The One and Only Ivan?

    • Animal lovers who enjoy heartwarming and emotionally impactful stories
    • Young readers who are interested in themes of friendship, empathy, and the power of hope
    • Parents and educators looking for a book that teaches important life lessons in a relatable and accessible way

    About the Author

    Katherine Applegate is an award-winning author known for her children's and young adult books. She has written over 30 books, including the popular "Animorphs" series co-authored with her husband, Michael Grant. Applegate's notable works also include "The One and Only Ivan," which won the Newbery Medal, and "Crenshaw," a heartwarming story about a boy and his imaginary friend. Her writing often explores themes of empathy, friendship, and the power of imagination. Applegate's captivating storytelling and ability to connect with readers of all ages have made her a beloved figure in the world of literature.

    Categories with The One and Only Ivan

    Book summaries like The One and Only Ivan

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The One and Only Ivan FAQs 

    What is the main message of The One and Only Ivan?

    The main message of The One and Only Ivan is the power of friendship, empathy, and the importance of fighting for what is right.

    How long does it take to read The One and Only Ivan?

    The reading time for The One and Only Ivan varies from person to person. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The One and Only Ivan a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The One and Only Ivan is a heartwarming and thought-provoking book that is definitely worth reading. It offers a unique perspective on friendship and the importance of empathy.

    Who is the author of The One and Only Ivan?

    The author of The One and Only Ivan is Katherine Applegate.

    What to read after The One and Only Ivan?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The One and Only Ivan, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
    • Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids by Bryan Caplan
    • Becoming Attached by Robert Karen
    • All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior
    • The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber
    • Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest
    • Moms Mean Business by Erin Baebler and Lara Galloway
    • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
    • Screamfree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel
    • Getting to 50/50 by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober