The One and Only Ivan


I never saw Ivan at the old, run-down shopping mall in Tacoma, but my husband did. He got sad thinking about Ivan, the silverback gorilla confined inside a dirty and cramped cage on show for whoever came to visit him. For 27 years he lived there and endured the humans who stared at him day after day, year after year. It was a dismal existance for a mighty silverback gorilla.

Ivan’s story began in 1962 when he was captured as an infant and sold to owners of a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington. He lived there for 27 years before the public pressure prompted his move first to the Woodland Park Zoo and then to the Atlanta Zoo. The Atlanta Zoo is home to the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas. Ivan is now 49 and thriving in his zoo home.

Katherine Applegate’s new novel, The One and Only Ivan was inspired by the true story of Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla. The novel is told through Ivan’s eyes and captures both the anguish and the heartening moments of friendship between him and his mall animal friends. It’s a book that will stick with you long after you turn the last page. It compelled me to create a book trailer, which I hope you will enjoy.



Have you ever heard of Ivan before?

Do you want to read this book now?

Do you like to visit animals at the zoo?

What’s your favorite zoo to visit?


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55 thoughts on “The One and Only Ivan

  1. Dear Mrs. Hembree,

    I really enjoyed your book trailer! It brings back memories of my childhood. I remember seeing Ivan at B&I and feeling so sorry for him. I am looking forward to reading this book. Thank you for sharing!

    Mrs. Staples

    • Dear Mrs. Staples,
      I can’t imagine what it was like to see Ivan in the B & I. What was it like? In any case, he is in a happier place now with lots of other gorilla friends to keep him company! Thanks for sharing your memories.
      Mrs. Hembree

  2. Hi Mrs. Hembree! Awsome book trailer! It is heartening to know that Ivan is in a far better place than the Tacoma Mall. I am putting this book on my summer reading list!

    • Dear Anna,
      Thank you for your kind comment about the book trailer. I hope others enjoy is as much as you did! I will have to try to get it on one of the book trailer websites soon!
      Mrs. Hembree

  3. Dear Mrs.Hembree,
    Ivan sounds like a good book to read. I haven’t heard of the book. I finally got computer back at home. You see I didn’t have computer for 5 or 9 weeks. I couldn’t have computer for a long just like when I was in Vietnam in kindergarten. You should add as a library book called Yugioh Gx it is a good book and there is no bad things in it.
    From Alex

    • Dear Alex,
      What great news that you have a computer working again at your house! I bet you are happy about that! Now you can make all kinds of comments again! So you think Yugioh GX is a good choice for the library? Tell me more! Why would kids like it so much?

      Mrs. Hembree

  4. Dear Mrs Hembree,

    Your post made me cry with such sadness. To think Ivan was stared at for all those years. It would have been so awful. For I am sure people who did see him never meant any harm by watching/staring at him.

    I can only imagine how awful it would have been, to be locked up in such a small area with no where really to hide.
    Your book trailer says so much about how it must have felt for Ivan. At least he did get some comfort with some friends.

    I was so happy to read that he is no longer stuck in that awful cage and is still living in a much more up lifting enclosure for Ivan so deserves this.

    I have not heard of Ivan until now and I as so glad you have put up this very special post about him. Will need to look out for this book as I would love to read it.

    The zoo that I visited was the Melbourne zoo. It sure has come along way for the first time I visited it when I was a young child. For now animals do have a much larger area of space to walk around in.

    My favourite animal is the elephant. I can’t get over how huge they are. And now I have another one and it is
    Ivan. 🙂

    Mrs Hembree do you have a favourite animal?

    From your pal down under,

    • Dear AA,
      I am sorry I made you cry when you watched the book trailer. Please know while it’s a sad book, it’s also a happy one too! After all, Ivan is happily living his golden years at the Atlanta Zoo with many other gorillas to keep him company!

      We have a zoo in Seattle and my daughter and I like to go there every few years. As I said to BB, I am not a huge zoo fan. However, the last time we went, my daughter had to drag me away from the penguin exhibit! I am a bit nutty about penguins! I used to be able to recite all 17 species without consulting a paper, but not anymore. there is something quite magical and stately about penguins that amuse me!

      Your comment about elephants made me smile. I rode an elephant once at an animal park in Oregon. I have to say, it was the most uncomfortable ride I have ever been on. Now I prefer to watch them!

      Mrs. Hembree

  5. Mrs. Hembree,

    We had not heard of Ivan before, but that didn’t stop us from loving this book and being grateful to the author for bringing his story to the attention of young readers. Josa and I enjoyed seeing the book trailer – it must have been a lot of work writing, choosing the images, and music. We went on YouTube where they have a video of Ivan in the Atlantic Zoo.


    • Dear Judy,
      It was because of you that I bought this book! Thank you ever so much for recommending it to me! The book trailer was actually more fun than work. The last one took lots and lots of hours, but this one is better. I learned how to save images in Flickr Galleries, and so that made my life a hundred times easier! All the photos were organized in one place and easy to upload to Animoto!
      I saw the YouTube of Ivan in Atlanta! You’re right, he does seem happy there. Yea!
      Mrs. Hembree

  6. Mrs. Hembree,

    I was very excited to share your book trailer with my 6th grade class. They were already signing up on my list to read The One and Only Ivan. It is on order and kids can’t wait for it to arrive.

    You Rock,

  7. Dear Mrs. Hembree,

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing story. If it wasn’t for this post, I’m sure I never would’ve heard about it. Yet, it sounds like an extremely triumphant story and one about how much people really do care. I think I’m definitely going to have to add this one to my class library! Thanks!

    Mr. Avery

    • Dear Mr. Avery,
      I was just thinking that your students might really like this book. It is definitely worth adding to your class library if you have a chance or suggest to your school librarian. I have to buy another copy this weekend because the list is so long for students and staff who want to read it.
      I have to admit Mr. Avery, making book movies is a LOT of fun! You are the master of the green screen, but I’m having fun getting my feet wet with book trailers!
      Thanks for visiting our blog again!.
      Mrs. Hembree

  8. Dear Mrs Hembree,
    Bravo! I love your post it bought tears to my eyes too.

    The video was amazing Mrs Hembree this is a post to remember.

    Interesting questions. My favourite Zoo would have to be the Melbourne Zoo because I enjoy looking at the animals and learning about animals.

    I would like to read this book about Ivan but it would bring tears to my eyes.

    I have not heard about Ivan but it is very sad how he lived in a cage for 27 years. 🙁

    My favourite animal is a baby orangutan because they are so cute.

    Here are some images of some baby orangutans.

    It is sad because orangutans are an endangered species which means there aren’t many which are alive today.

    Orangutans live in Indonesia. Hope you like my facts Mrs Hembree about orangutans.

    From your pal,

    • Dear BB,
      Thank you for your thoughtful and factual comment about orangutans. I looked at the link of photos of the baby orangutans and they look so cute and cuddly. Is that why you like them so much? They make me want to hold one and give it tummy rubs!
      Your mother mentioned the Melbourne Zoo too as being a great one. I have mixed feelings about zoos. On the one hand I know the zoo keepers are helping keep some endangered species alive and that is a good thing. Yet, on the other hand, I get sad when I see animals in limited quarters. Sometimes you can watch them pace back and forth and I can’t handle seeing that. I just want them to live where they can be happy.

      Ivan the gorilla seems to be happy in Atlanta, so that is a good thing. After so many years in captivity, he couldn’t have lived in the wild anymore. he wouldn’t have known what to do to survive.

      I don’t know that I have a favorite wild animal. I think probably panda bears and koalas are at the top of my list however. I tend to like animals that seems cuddly and cute!

      Have you ever see koalas in the wild? Are they cute?

      Have you started back to school yet?
      Your librarian friend,
      Mrs. Hembree

  9. @ Mrs Hembree,

    Thank you for your great comment.

    Yes I like panda’s too. Animals which are cuddly do seem to look really cute.

    I have started back at school but only for two days this week we will start with the start of my first term in grade 4.

    From your friend,
    Bianca. :0

  10. p.s I forget to write Mrs Hembree that yes I have seena Koala in its own environment.
    It was when I was going on day trip to Lorne. There it was this very cute koala having a sleep way up in the tree.

    It did look cute.

    Bye for now Bianca.

  11. Dear Mrs. Hembree,

    Wow, what a moving post. I had never heard of Ivan before…it was very emotional to watch your trailer. I can not imagine this being allowed to happen to such a great animal and I am so thankful to see that it was put to a stop.

    As soon as I finished reading your post, I went straight onto Amazon and purchased the book to read with my class. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I know my students are going to be so interested in this animal’s journey and it will spark many questions and futher investigatiom about the one, the only….Ivan.

    Much appreciated,

    Mrs. Webb-Scheers

    • Dear Mrs. Webb-Scheers,
      If my book trailer moved you to purchase this wonderful book, then my mission was successful! I have some 4th grade teachers at my school who are also going to read it to their classes. The good news is that we already know the happy ending of the real story. The one that Katherine Applegate writes is equally moving.
      Enjoy your book!
      Mrs. Hembree

  12. Dear Mrs Hembree

    What a touching and powerful book trailer you have made!

    I definitely need to read Ivan’s story and buy it for our library. I know I’ll need to get out my tissues for part of it, but I’m glad it also has a happy ending.

    We have three zoos here in Melbourne, Australia.

    The Melbourne Zoo is our biggest zoo and it has lots of animals from around the world. It has been interesting to see the zoo evolve from animals being kept in cages and concrete enclosures to animals now living in open shared habitats.

    Werribee Zoo is an Open Range Zoo where you can go on a safari ride to see lots of African animals and you can even have a sleepover safari!

    Healesville Sanctuary is where you can visit our Australian animals including kangaroos, koalas, wombats and platypuses.

    I agree with you, I would still prefer to see animals living happily in their natural environment.

    Miss Y 🙂

    • Dear Miss Y,
      Wow, you have some great zoos in the Melbourne area. I think it would be interesting to go to the Open Range Zoo and see the African animals. The sleepover safari sounds like fun! I have some friends who have been on African safaris and they have only had wonderful things to say about their experiences.
      I would also like to see Australian animals up close. We don’t really have anything in our area with Australian animals. They intrigue me! Well, except for the nasty snakes and crocs. I don’t much care for them!

      Mrs. Hembree

  13. Dear Mes.Hembree,
    Yes I was excited of getting computer back. Yugioh Gx is about a duel academy in a island that has people can learn and duel with duel monsters,traps,spells. magic, equip cards and field cards. So that was it for today. Can you say hi for BB and AA.
    From Alex.

  14. Hi Mrs Hembree

    Would you believe me if I told you I once spent 5 weeks travelling on a camping tour in a big Mac truck down the East Coast of Africa? I loved it!! I also loved the opportunity to see so many African animals in their natural environment.

    It looks as though you have yet another great reason to save your money to come and visit us in Australia!

    I couldn’t believe my eyes today when a box of books arrived for me to browse through…sitting waiting in the box for me was “The One and Only Ivan” – yay!!! It’s going to the top of my pile of books to read…

    Miss Y 🙂

    • Dear Miss Y,
      How exciting that you have a copy of The One and Only Ivan! The book is set in another place, not Washington state, but as in my post about it, it was inspired by the events of the past near Seattle. I hope you enjoy it and your students too!
      Five weeks camping in Africa? That sounds amazing! I love to travel and am always a bit envious when I hear of stories like yours!
      Happy reading and I’m saving my pennies!
      Mrs. Hembree

  15. Dear Mrs. H
    Did you know I am going to Hawaii? It is going to be so much fun. Are there any Hawaii books in the library right now?

    From Ben

    • Dear Ben,
      How exciting that you are going to Hawaii! That is going to be a fabulous trip! We do have some books on Hawaii here in the library. One is one seashells, another is about reef animals and reef fish. There are others as well as a Magic Tree House book, High Tide in Hawaii you might enjoy.
      Stop by the library and I will show you the choices!
      Mrs. Hembree

  16. Mrs. Hembree,
    I have had such fun looking at your blog this evening! You have provided such a rich resource. Thanks for taking the time to share with the rest of us through this wonderful format.

    The Ivan book has been on my reading list, too. I’m more anxious than ever to read it after watching your trailer. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with my students (Only after I buy a few copies of the book, though!).

    While I don’t ever remember seeing Ivan, I did grow up in the “Bobo and Fifi” era of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

    Zoos during that time period didn’t provide much better cage conditions than what Ivan lived with (zookeepers may differ with me, but from the visitor perspective, it seemed rather “prison-like”). Even as a litle kid, I remember feeling sorry for them. It’s such a pleasure to see the positive changes that have been made in our current zoos – Woodland Park being a prime example.

    Thanks for showcasing this timely book and for providing the links to show us “the rest of the story” as he lives out his days in Atlanta.
    Mrs. Jensen

    • Dear Mrs. Jensen,
      Thank you so much for visiting our blog! We love visitors and especially when they take time from their busy schedules to leave a comment!
      Please feel free to show the Ivan trailer to your students. Our students have enjoyed it and we have a long list of reserves for our 2 copies!

      I think I agree with you regarding caged animals. I am so glad that zoos are choosing more open formats for the animals. Seeing them caged just makes me sad.

      Mrs. Hembree

  17. Pingback: The One and Only Ivan Response 2/12/12 « reneehennings

  18. Mrs. Hembree,

    I am so thrilled that you put together this animoto trailer for The One and Only Ivan. I read this story for a Master’s Reading Education class at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. I am a practicing 5th grade teacher in Winston-Salem North Carolina, and am very excited to share Ivan with my students who are lovers of animals. I think that your animoto video will capture their hearts as we begin our journey with Ivan. I hope to visit your edublog soon and find more exciting tips and tricks that I can implement in my classroom. Thanks again!

    Renee Hennings
    5th Grade Teacher
    Winston-Salem, NC

    • Dear Hennings,
      I hope your students enjoy The One and Only Ivan as much as I have. Ivan lives a lot closer to you now in Atlanta, Georgia. The real Ivan used to live near Seattle, but he’s in the Atlanta Zoo now. Keep me posted on how your students like the book!
      Do you have a classroom blog too?
      Mrs. Hembree

      • Mrs. Hembree,

        I just finished reading Ivan aloud to my students. We began our journey by making predictions based off of your beautifully created trailer for Ivan. I had some of my students singing along to the words of “Amazing Grace” as we viewed the trailer a few times!

        As we read through Ivan, I referred back to our prediction chart, and we will view your trailer one last time next week when we have our closing discussion about the novel.

        In our wrap up today, I was introduced to a new release of a Disneynature film called “Chimpanzee”. I have included the link just in case you would like to see and make suggestions for your students.

        Thank you again for a great spring board activity to share this story in the classroom. It has been a real treat for my students and I!

        Miss Hennings
        5th Grade Teacher
        North Carolina

    • Dea Sebastian,
      Yes, The One and Only Ivan is an amazing book and I think we are going to be able to meet the author this spring.
      Won’t that be something really, really terrific?
      Mrs. Hembree

  19. Dear Mrs. Hembree,
    I think it is sad that Ivan had to go through all those steps.
    But I am glad that he is happy at his new home.:)
    Poor Ivan. 🙁
    From, Rasmus.

  20. Dear Mrs. Hembery,
    I love the one and only Iven video.
    please post more postes on the blog.
    I allways get exsited when more postes come

    • Dear Luke,
      I’m glad you liked the Ivan video. I enjoyed making it.
      I wish I could do more posts, but I only have so much time in a day. My family needs my time and so do my doggies. Also, I’ve chosen to sleep at night.
      Hope that’s okay!
      From, Mrs. Hembree

  21. Dear Mrs. Hembree,
    The video was so amazing! I could watch it 100 times! I really feel bad for Ivan, he deserve to be free! I want to read the book so bad!
    From, Yennhi

    • Dear Yennhi,
      Perhaps Mrs. Adair will read the book to your class and then you can all hear it together!
      Please be happy for Ivan. In real life he now lives in a great zoo in Atlanta and has other gorilla friends.

      Mrs. Hembree

    • Dear Miranda,
      To get a video on the blog, you have to copy the embed code and insert that into the post. It’s a little bit complicated, but I think someday you can learn how to do it.
      I make my videos using Animoto. then when the video is complete, the website asks if I want to share it. When I say yes, I can chose to share with a link, or with an embed HTML code. The word embed means to put inside, so essentially the code tells me how to put the video inside my post so it will work.
      Mrs. Hembree

  22. Hello, Mrs. Hembree! Excellent work on your video and great choice of books to display your skills. In addition to your trailer, I had a sneak peek into the book as Mrs. Raffle read it to her 4th grade class today. I love that the author wrote the story from Ivan’s point of view. I can hardly wait to obtain a copy myself and see how he paints the rest of the story.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Dear Sherri,
      Thank you so much for commenting on our library blog! Ivan is such an amazing book and I think you will enjoy reading it. it’s a great book to show points of view – especially that of an animal.
      Mrs. Hembree

  23. Dear Mrs.Hembree,
    I just watched your video and really liked it. We are reading The One and only Evan in class. I like the book. I like Bob and Evan. Bob is funny and Evan is in a cage. That is sad.


    • Dear Isaiah,
      Thank you so much for leaving a comment on our blog! The One and Only Ivan is such a great book! It has become one of my all-time favorites. I am curious to hear what you think once you finish it. Will it be one of your favorites? Do you have another book to suggest?
      Mrs. Hembree

  24. Dear Mrs.Hembree
    In our class we are reading that book its an amazing book but really really sad. I can’t believe its a true story and being locked up in a cage for 27 years.I have some questions for you.Did you think the book was sad?Where did you here of find the book?You made a great pick on that book.
    From Rachel Classroom connection 🙂

    • Dear Rachel,
      It’s so great to hear that you are enjoying The One and Only Ivan. I just Love the book. Yes, there are sad parts, but it’s also a story of hope. Give it time and you will see what I mean.
      A student of mine Josa and his mom gave me the book originally. When they find fabulous books, they always tell me! I read it in one night and was completely hooked.
      How do the rest of the students in your class like Ivan?
      Good to hear from you!
      From, Mrs. Hembree

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