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Teacher Feature: Mrs. Ramsey Recommends The One and Only Ivan

one and only ivanEach week, the NHCA library will feature a teacher and one of their favorite books and/or favorite authors.  This week New Hope’s upper school science teacher Mrs. Ramsey shares one of her favorite books from the past year, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  This book  made Mrs. Carter’s Favorite Reads of 2012 and has been  frequently mentioned as a contender for the Newbery Medal for 2012.

Mrs. Ramsey says:

If you love books and animals, and you are inspired by people who make a difference, you will love this book.  The One and Only Ivan is a work of fiction.  However, the circumstances of Ivan are true. Ivan is a silverback gorilla!  Ivan was raised in a human household until he could no longer be controlled.   He then spent the next 30 plus years of his life in a very small cage, inside a shopping mall!  This is NOT the place for a silverback!

Mrs. Ramsey reads The One and Only Ivan to Hairy Gary the gorilla and students from Mrs. McCuistion’s first grade class.


Katherine Applegate gives Ivan a voice.  Through her expert writing, readers can image what this great ape thinks and feels.  For example:

I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.

It’s not as easy as it looks.

People call me the Freeway Gorilla.  The ape at Exit 8.

The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback.

The names are mine, but they’re not me.  I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan.

Humans waste words.

They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.

Everyone knows the peels are the best part.

I suppose you think gorillas can’t understand you.

Of course, you also probably think we can’t walk upright.

Try knuckle walking for an hour.

You tell me:  Which way is more fun?”

Now, doesn’t Ivan sound like a gorilla you would like to meet?

Ivan desires a change.  He’s tired of being cooped up in a cage; he wants to feel grass again! He wants to be all that a silverback gorilla can be, so Ivan becomes an artist (yes, this part is true).

Read The One and Only Ivan and find out how Ivan helps a friend, a baby elephant, with his artistic abilities.

Read The One and Only Ivan and find out how humans – a child and a janitor – stand up to people in power.

Read The One and Only Ivan and find out how people who love animals can make a difference!

Mrs. Ramsey hopes that you will give this book a try. After you’ve read the book, catch Mrs. Ramsey and discuss this amazing book with her!

The One and Only Ivan is highly recommended by both Mrs. Ramsey and Mrs. Carter!  The book can be read independently by almost any student in grades 3 and above (and while the book is leveled at 3.6, the content is rich enough for upper school students to read and enjoy).  The One and Only Ivan would also make an excellent read aloud for younger students who are not ready to read the book independently.