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Half Brother Paperback – Sep 27 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Paperback, Sep 27 2011
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTrophy (Sept. 27 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554686113
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554686117
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.4 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #16,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Quill & Quire

Part science lesson, part animal rights crusade, part morality tale, part coming of age story, Half Brother is a departure from bestselling author Kenneth Oppel’s better-known fictional worlds of flying ships and bats. All the same, it contains everything young readers could want: a teenage protagonist, an intriguing story, multiple plot twists, and even a cuddly baby chimp.

Ben Tomlin is the 13-year-old son of a behavioural scientist conducting a groundbreaking experiment to see if chimpanzees can learn human languages. Enter Zan, a newborn chimp the Tomlins raise as a human and teach to communicate using American sign language. The experiment proves exceedingly successful, and Ben grows to love Zan and even consider him a brother.

The trouble begins when the experiment loses funding. While Ben and his mother want to keep Zan, Ben’s father views him merely as a test subject. The family must decide whether or not to give Zan up to an uncertain and possibly perilous future.

Half Brother poses some thorny ethical questions. What makes a living being a “person”? Is it right to use animals in human experiments? What is language, and can a common understanding make humans and animals equals?

These questions are the novel’s best attributes, though they are diminished somewhat because their mouthpiece, Ben, is a two-dimensional character who stands as the book’s conscience. They are also occasionally obscured by a subplot involving Ben’s crush on a classmate, which veers into cliché and resolves with a whimper. Thankfully, Zan is the novel’s heart, and is effectively contrasted with Ben’s clinical, emotionally aloof father. This baby chimp will elicit laughs and even a few tears.

Even as it entertains, Half Brother leaves readers with plenty to consider about the way humans behave toward the many species that share our planet.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Praise for Half Brother:

* "Deftly integrating family dynamics, animal-rights issues, and the painful lessons of growing up, Half Brother draws readers in from the beginning and doesn't let go. The carefully crafted characters will be an easy connection for teens and the interpretation of the animal-testing controversies of the 1970s will provide an alternate viewpoint for animal-book lovers." - SLJ, starred review

"Set in the simpler time of the early '70s, this well-plotted novel weaves together themes of animal rights, family issues and the cost of animal research....There are no easy answers, just a thoughtful portrayal of real people grappling with tough questions." - Kirkus

"Half Brother is highly recommended for all YA collections....a funny and exceptional story" - VOYA. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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