Book Review: “The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story”

Hi everyone!

I was sent “The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story” by Beth Ferry to review. I have not read the original book but I have watched the trailer for the film that will be streaming on Disney+ starting on August 21st (I think), 2020. The date has changed several times, including apparently this week from an August 14th date.

While I just received the book a few days ago, it released earlier this month and so it is available online for purchase now. “The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story” is beautifully illustrated by Gonzalo Kenny.


An official sypnopsis: Ivan is a gorilla in captivity. Life wasn’t always that way, but he has trouble remembering a time when he wasn’t living in a shopping mall. In his cage, he draws with crayon and paper, gifted to him from his human friend. There is no doubt that Ivan is special. And he’s always been the star of the show. Until the day a little elephant named Ruby enters his world and shows him the significance of the place we call home.

The book is primarily about Ivan and Ruby. Ivan is a silverback gorilla that lives at Big Top Mall with his friends, including Bob the dog. Ivan is also very talented at drawing with his crayons. Ruby is the newest member of the group, a young, inquisitive elephant who shows an interest in Ivan’s crayons. Ruby wants Ivan to tell her a story, and he isn’t good with words but he is good with communicating with his art. He tells Bob the dog at one point, “Art has to come from the heart”. The story is about friendship.

The end of the book offers a page talking about how the character of Ivan is based on a true story. I dove into the story a little more than that paragraph, but he did live at a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington for about 30 years before being relocated to the Atlanta Zoo (Ivan passed in 2012).

I think the friendship in the book between Ivan and Ruby is nicely told. When Ivan says to Bob that “Art has to come from the heart”, he is saying he can’t draw him because he has to feel it. It seems kind of abrubt to me, but he ends up drawing the whole group of friends at the end.

The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story” runs 40 pages and the age range target is 3-5.

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