Based on a true story, the Newbery Medal-winning book “The One and Only Ivan” written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by Patricia Castelao has caught the attention of Disney. The studio is in negotiations to acquire the screen rights to adapt the touching and heart-warming story. Allison Shearmur, who is one of the producers on Disney’s live-action take on “Cinderella,” is on board to produce the adaptation.
Here is the summary of the book:
Ivan is a silverback gorilla. He is the Ape at Exit 8. Ivan lives at a run-down mall and was once the main attraction there. But the mall has hit hard times and the crowds are no longer coming. Ivan is bored and his friend Stella, the elephant, is chronically ill. Mack, the owner of the mall, doesn’t have the money to care for Stella properly, nor does he have the money to advertise. So Mack decides to buy a baby elephant with what little capital he has, thinking a baby elephant might draw the crowds back into the mall.
Ruby arrives just in time to bond with Stella. Stella has been in captivity so long, she never had a chance to be a mother. Stella is a natural and takes Ruby on as her own. Unfortunately, it is a fleeting victory. Stella succumbs to the foot infection Mack has long been ignoring, and Ruby is orphaned for a second time. Before she dies, Stella makes Ivan promise to take care of Ruby and get her out of captivity.
This presents a great dilemma for Ivan, because in order to protect and save Ruby, he must confront his own harrowing past that he has long been trying to suppress. But Ivan is a silverback, and he understands he is mighty and noble. He made a promise to Stella that he intends to keep. With the help of Julia, the young daughter of the mall maintenance man, Ivan ends up freeing all the animals and getting them shipped to the zoo, where they are placed with other animals of their own kind. While some may not consider this to be freedom, it was certainly an upgrade from the decrepit mall situation in which they formerly lived.
The real-life gorilla named Ivan spent 27 years in a Washington mall before being transferred to the Atlanta Zoo.
Applegate’s book, which was published in 2011 spent 60 consecutive weeks (and counting) on the New York Times best-seller list and has won several awards.
Disney is currently looking for a writer to adapt the book into a screenplay for an intended live-action feature. Stephen Meinen, Vice-President of Allison Shearmur Productions, will work on the project with Shearmur.
Sources: hollywoodreporter, abc.local