Half Brother

Half Brother

Book - 2010 | 1st ed.
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In 1973, when a renowned Canadian behavioral psychologist pursues his latest research project--an experiment to determine whether chimpanzees can acquire advanced language skills--he brings home a baby chimp named Zan and asks his thirteen-year-old son to treat Zan like a little brother.
Publisher: New York : Scholastic Press, 2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781554688128
9780545229258
Branch Call Number: OPPEL
Characteristics: 377 p.

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0Charlie Oct 15, 2014

This was a very enjoyable read. The subject matter and the ethical questions raised (viewing the 70's from our 21st century perspective) were handled well. It was refreshing to have an adolescent male protagonist who is not afraid to cry and express his feelings. A very interesting story - I didn... Read More »


From the critics


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l
leejuliet
Aug 19, 2020

Half Brother is a realistic fiction book by Kenneth Oppel about a family consisting of two scientist parents and a teenage boy named Ben Tomlin. As Ben’s 13th birthday was arriving, he envisioned all the surprises he would get on that special day. His hopes were brought to a demise when he found out that they were moving to a new town to execute his parents’ scientific study, which revolved around whether chimpanzees could acquire humane traits or not. Mr. and Mrs. Tomlin brought home a baby chimpanzee, which Ben’s new neighbors found fascinating. On the other hand, Ben was disappointed at the lack of attention he was getting, and found it ridiculous to even attempt to make a chimpanzee adapt to the human world. As time went on, Ben realized that the chimpanzee, named Zan, needed someone to protect him and understand him not as a human, but as a living creature. Zan’s natural instincts as a monkey forced him to feel uncomfortable around certain things such as being held down, since normally the species roams around in the jungle. Ben’s parents decided to terminate the experiment and take Zan away, but Ben, finally accepting Zan as his brother, was determined to do anything to keep the chimpanzee with him.

This story was incredibly interesting and original. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel because it brought out a unique lesson of how family doesn’t have to be defined as a biological connection through DNA, but as a relationship where individuals can depend on each other. Half Brother also reviews how although a change to the normal life may seem irrelevant and unnecessary, that it could actually be the start of a new adventure. I would recommend this book to anyone around the age of 11 and up, and this book deserves 5 stars.

l
lyla786
Dec 03, 2017

This is one topic that is rarely addressed today in books. Oppel has taken that topic and created a hilarious, intriguing story.
I personally lived this book. Though I don't consider animals to be my "brothers" or "sisters" this was definitely very interesting. I thought the parts with Zan were adorable. The way he adapted to sign language so quickly was amazing, even if it was fictional. The ending is heartbreaking but very true.

☆☆☆☆☆ - Lyla, age 12

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Jul 15, 2017

Half Brother is a heart-touching story that defines brotherhood in a unique way. Ben is a 13-year-old boy who lives with his father and mother, when suddenly, a new member is added to their family. Ben now has a little chimpanzee brother named Zan, who is only the subject of an experiment. At first, Ben finds Zan to be a despicable creature, but soon enough, his disgust transforms into immense affection. In fact, it turns out that Ben’s love for Zan is the main cause of conflict in the story. Not only is Zan adorable, but so is his slow blooming relationship with Ben. Moreover, the story delivers valuable messages in a fun and interesting way. Half Brother is an excellent piece of work that defies the traditional meaning of ‘family’. It is satisfying from the beginning to the very end. A book worth reading. Rating: 5/5
- @VirtueofReading of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

c
cullie14
Jul 20, 2016

This book was excellent!

c
cklkjs
Jun 18, 2016

Original, characters were compelling

l
lucasrocks
Apr 09, 2016

Probably one of his best books!

p
Phidippus
Jan 23, 2016

A good look at the ethics of some animal experimentation on both humans and animals.

Good resolution.

Loved the local references to Victoria and Canada.

Definitely worth a read although the 'romance' aspect got in the way with little satisfactory resolution.

d
dixiedog
Jan 07, 2016

I thought that Canadian author Kenneth Oppel’s Half Brother was an interesting concept for a book. In addition to learning something about chimpanzees the reader gets into the mind of a young boy entering puberty and how he sees the world. I found the book a little slow but it did pick up in the second half of the book. This book should appeal to boys in particular ages 9 to perhaps 15. Recommended book by Senior Doctor-at-Bass! D. A.

k
kcdornan
Dec 27, 2015

Didn't realize this was young adult fiction at first, and probably would have enjoyed it if I was a bit younger. Primatology is so interesting and it was neat to have this family dynamic perspective on it. Too much of the book in my opinion focuses on Ben's focus of trying to win over a girl at school, but again it is most likely because I am a bit older (21). What was really cool though was I went to boarding school in Victoria, and aside from the name being switched I am 99% certain Oppel based the school Ben attends off the school I went to! So reading about the details of the campus and their lunch room was fun.

b
BewitchedInGold
Aug 09, 2015

Kenneth Opel actually arrived at my school for a presentation and gave me this book. I was in grade six, then, so when I flipped through the book and saw some coarse language I set it down. But now, I've read it many times over and I LOVE it's sense of humour and teen romance tied along with brotherhood. It raises a lot of ethical questions (I saw the earlier comments) and that you can have a brother not related in blood, but in loyalty and friendship.

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Age Suitability

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l
lyla786
Dec 03, 2017

lyla786 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

t
Torstad
Jul 20, 2014

Torstad thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

starsup100 Jul 18, 2013

starsup100 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Siham2000 Jul 04, 2013

Siham2000 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

m
michy174
Jul 02, 2013

michy174 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

orange_tiger_343 Jan 02, 2013

orange_tiger_343 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

mahdiyah_p Dec 07, 2012

mahdiyah_p thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

s
shellsnake
Nov 29, 2012

shellsnake thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

d
dl1012
May 18, 2012

dl1012 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

meks Apr 21, 2012

meks thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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Summary

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n
Nithya_1
Jul 10, 2015

A boy and his parents move across Canada to teach American Sign Language to a chimpanzee.

k
kiko34
Aug 27, 2013

Zan the monkey becomes more than a project he becomes family

mike11296 Jun 12, 2013

This book is based on a boy named Ben who has moved to a new house inn order for his dad to complete an experiment to make a chimpanzee learn ASL(American Sign Language).

k
kathy_oFTo
Apr 05, 2012

Ben moves to a new house in the country because his dad has an interesting experiment to work on. In this experiment Ben needs to treat Zan (the new born monkey) like a brother, and teach him to do sign language. But new house means new schools, and new bullies and romances.

hungergames007 Feb 22, 2012

THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER!!

Quotes

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m
Man123
Jul 20, 2014

pretty good book really good

k
kiko34
Aug 27, 2013

"I miss him"

mike11296 Jun 12, 2013

"How about if I pee on you? Would you like that?"

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