Oppel, Kenneth. Half Brother. New York, Scholastic, 2010.
Some of this I’d heard before, but it did sound exciting. It was like something from a sci-fi movie. One day people would read about it in Popular Science, and I could be a part of it. I caught myself nodding as Dad carried on, his eyes bright, his hands grasping at the air for emphasis.
“And that’s why the project’s whole design is so radical,” he said. “We’re trying to teach another species our language. Human language. So we need to raise Zan like a human baby, so he can learn language just like a human would. No cages. No labs. He’s one of us now. He has a crib and clothes and toys. And most important, he has a family. He has a mother and a father—and a big brother, too.”
Ben’s father is a renowned behavioral psychologist who’s just gotten his big break. Finally, a university willing to fund his experiment—to try teaching a chimp sign language. But in order for that to happen, the chimp must be raised as a human, which means Ben finds himself with a new baby brother.
Brilliant. This is one of those books that rings true in every way. The characters, the family dynamics, the emotions…I feel as though I’ve lived through this. I didn’t think there was any way Oppel could steer around animal rights discussions without sounded didactic, but he did. All sides of every argument were presented flawlessly. He manages to work in deeper themes without ever losing the tension.
This is great for discussions, perfect for book clubs. I would rate it as 13+ due to a few (very) mild sexual references.
Definitely a book to put on your "to be read" list. Go ahead and try not to fall in love with Zan. Really. I dare you.
Book 2 of the Cybils....Done!