Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DCF # 6

I just finished Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel.  This book is about a middle school boy named Ben Tomlin, who is going through lots of typical middle school stuff: liking girls, tangling with neighborhood menaces, moving across the country to be the new kid, struggling with making good marks, fighting with his dad, and learning to live with a baby chimpanzee as a brother.  Well, most of his life is typical except that last part!  It is 1973, and Ben's parents are Canadian scientists interested in studying chimps to see if they can acquire human language when "cross fostered" into a human home.  Pretty interesting stuff.  So, Ben has to get used to pretending this little chimp, Zan, is his baby brother.  Eventually, Ben comes to accept Zan as his brother, and by the end must take great leaps of faith to protect him from those who would hurt him. 

This book held my interest, and I quite enjoyed following the changes in both Ben and Zan as a result of Ben's parents' experiment.  The fast-paced, honest, first person narrative helped me to feel what Ben was feeling throughout the novel.  I do think the designation of YA (or Young Adult) is appropriate for this novel, as it does get a little deep into the realm of Ben's dating life and his fantasy love life.  Because of some of the mature themes, I wouldn't think the book would be appropriate for many students younger than 7th grade, and for that reason alone, I highly doubt this book will win the DCF award. 

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