Monday, October 11, 2010

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel

Ben wasn't sure what to expect when his parents brought their new bundle home. He had been an only child, but now there was...Zan. No one asked him if he wanted Zan, or what it would mean for his life. And his life is definitely going to change, because Zan is a chimpanzee. Ben's parents are researchers. His father wants to know if chimpanzees are capable of language. His mother is studying what happens if a chimpanzee is raised as a human in a human family. Ben knows that Zan is used for research, but he also starts to see Zan as a part of their family, and he loves Zan very much. Then the funding for the project runs out, and Ben is shocked to learn about the darker side of animal testing - and that not everyone in his family sees Zan as part of the family after all.

Half Brother is such a great book. It's a funny story but also a sad story, because you know that it might not end happily for Zan. It's set in the 1970s, so it makes a lot more sense that Ben is only finding out about the complicated side of researching animals. The book, though, is really balanced, and although animal testing plays a role in the drama, it's less about that than it is about the brotherly relationship that Ben and Zan develop and about the way Ben struggles with growing up. Definitely check this one out.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Into the Minds of Babes by Lisa Guernsey
Baby Signs by Linda P. Acredolo
Laika by Nick Abadzis
Chimpanzees by Rebecca Stefoff
Dusk by Kenneth Oppel

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