The One and Only Ivan – Literature – Evaluation

The One and Only Ivan, a novel by Katherine Applegate, is a very enjoyable book that is easy to read and understand.

We really enjoyed reading this book. It held our attention the whole time so that we didn’t want to put it down. The style of writing was so beautiful we could not help but feel empathy for the animals. It really touched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes. This novel explores a special topic which made us rethink our beliefs about animals in captivity. Even after reading this book, the story and the characters stayed in our minds for a long time.  It is bit of a paradox, though, that at the end of the book Ivan doesn’t get his freedom but just ends up changing cages: from his cage at the mall to a cage in the zoo. In the book, the zoo is described as a wonderful place, the place they have always dreamed of. The difference is that now Ivan is living with other animals of his own species and he is not alone. Regardless of your position on zoos specifically, and animals in captivity more generally, this book provides an enthralling opportunity to explore and discuss these ethical questions.

We think this book is appropriate for children and adults as well as school students. The book should be provided with extra material by the teacher as it offers a lot of topics for discussion. In German schools it can be taught in the end of 6th grade, maybe at the beginning of 7th grade, depending on their level of English. It addresses animal lovers as well as people who just want a completely different view of our ordinary world.