Half-Brother by Kenneth Oppel

Book cover image of Half-Brother

image from Google Images

Can you imagine being a 13-year-old only child and having your parents tell you that you will soon have a new baby brother that’s an eight-day-old Chimpanzee ? How would you feel? Excited, angry? To make matters worse, your family moves far away from all the friends you’ve had your entire life.

Meet Ben, a 13-year-old boy who, well, is now an older brother to a baby Chimp named Zan. Ben’s father, a well-known behavioral scientist, has moved his family across Canada to pursue his latest research project: a high-profile experiment to see if chimpanzees can learn advanced language skills. Ben’s parents tell him to treat Zan like a little brother. Ben doesn’t want to, but agrees to in the end. Ben’s just glad that at least now he’s not the only one his father’s going to pay attention to.

It isn’t long before Ben is Zan’s favorite, and Ben starts to see Zan as truly a brother, not just an experiment. His father doesn’t want Ben to see Zan as anything more than an experiment. Soon Ben is forced to make a decision between between obeying his father or saving his brother from an intolerable fate.

Half-Brother isn’t just a story about a boy and a chimp. It’s about families, the way we judge each other, the way choices that appear easy can be very difficult, and how you can’t always do right by those you love. In the hands of this excellent author, Kenneth Oppel, it’s a book you won’t soon forget.

Genre: Animal fiction

Tags: Chimpanzee, family, experiments, animals, friendship

Series: This book is not part of a series.

A/R Reading level: 4.4

Interest level: Grades 7-10

Link to Harvest Park Library catalog: Half-Brother

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