Disney’s The One and Only Ivan is coming to Disney+ on August 21st. Inspired by the Newbery Medal Winning book by K.A. Applegate, who in turn was inspired by real events, the film introduces audiences to a silverback gorilla named Ivan who lives at a stripmall and draws pictures of his favorite things. Aimed at a younger audience, a new picture book from Disney Press called The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story will help kids get to know the characters, develop a love of drawing, and teach them that families come in all shapes and sizes.
Ivan the silverback gorilla lives at the Big Top Mall with his friends Bob the dog, birds Thelma and Henrietta, a bunny named Murphy, and a seal named Frankie. He misses his old friend Stella the elephant, but when a young elephant named Ruby joins the friends, he shares his love of drawing with her. Through Ruby, Ivan learns to draw from the heart and begins to see the world differently.
The premise of the picture book takes the inciting incident from the film and turns it into a heartwarming book perfect for storytime with kids too young for the original novel. It’s about discovering your own unique way of self expression through drawings and also a story about families coming in all shapes and sizes. Parents can use it to not only help a child discover a love of drawing, but also to talk about the ways their family is unique and the extended parts of their family.
Illustrator Gonzalo Kenny takes the live-action characters from the film and transcribes them as cartoony versions that look like they could be animated. All of the artwork is charming and appealing, but he not only had to create the main characters in his own style, but also create drawings that come from the hands of Ivan and the trunk of Ruby. The colors also pop off the page, especially the final shot where all of the characters are in the center of the ring performing.
Kids and parents alike will be charmed by The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story. Whether you’re using it as an introduction to the characters before watching the film or as a way to extend your enjoyment of the story beyond the screen, there’s a lot to love in this picture book.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.