Have you ever gone to the zoo, watched the animals, and wondered what they would say if only they could talk? Well here’s you chance! The One and Only Ivan is the story of Ivan the gorilla, told by Ivan. Ivan is a mighty silverback gorilla. He was born in the wilds of Africa, captured as an infant, lived part of his early life in a human household, but was soon sent to live at the Big Top Mall. This is where the story begins with Ivan, his friends Stella, a former circus elephant, and Bob, a stray dog that shares Ivan’s domain. Ivan has now lived at the mall for 27 years.
Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. He doesn’t think much about his former life in the jungle. His world consists mainly of his friends, Stella and Bob, his keeper Mack, and Julia, the daughter of the man who comes to clean the mall each night. Ivan’s favorite past times are to watch TV and draw. Ivan’s an artist. The pictures he creates with crayons and paper are sold at the mall. But Ivan’s world is about to change.
Attendance at the mall is dropping. Mack needs to increase the attendance at the shows he does with the animals in order to bring in more money. Suddenly Ruby, a baby elephant, arrives at the mall. She quickly wins over both Stella and Ivan. Like Ivan, Ruby was born in the wild but she still remembers her family and her capture. Ruby loves listening to stories and sharing her own, but she doesn’t like performing in the shows. Ivan begins to worry. How can he help Ruby? Will Ruby spend the rest of her life in the mall like the other animals? What will Mack do to her if she refuses to perform? How can he help Ruby?