The One and Only Ivan: Setting: Present day, in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Main character: Ivan, also the narrator. He is a silverback gorilla and has lived in a glass cage in the mall all his life. He is the only gorilla in the mall.
Ivan is all alone and doesn't know how to be a gorilla. He also doesn't remember much of his early life in the wild with his family, except for his twin sister who died when they were captured.
Ivan's best friend, Stella, an old circus elephant, who performs at the mall three times a day. She has a bad foot from mistreatment and poor care. Mack purchases a baby elephant named Ruby and she joins their little circus. Stella makes Ivan promise to take care of Ruby and get her to a zoo.
After Stella dies, Mack begins to train Ruby to do Stella's circus tricks for the show in the mall. Ruby resists so Mack beats her with the clawstick, something used to train animals in the circus. This makes Ivan mad.
Ivan paints Ruby in a zoo with other elephants and gets Julia to understand. She gets her dad to put it on the billboard. She calls the TV news people and they interview Mack and put the whole thing on the news. People picket in front of the mall. Zookeepers come in to rescue the animals.
Ivan is brought to the zoo and after being checked out is shown live action video of the other gorillas so he can learn their behavior before being released into their habitat. Julia and George adopt Bob and come to visit Ivan. Julia tells him that Ruby is happy with the other elephants.