Author: Eliot Schrefer
Published: February 25th, 2014 by Scholastic Press
GoodReads Summary: Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm’s way. When he was a boy, Luc’s mother would warn him about the “mock men” living in the trees by their home — chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night. Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn’t mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job. Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family — and must act when that family comes under attack.
As he did in his acclaimed novel Endangered, a finalist for the National Book Award, Eliot Schrefer takes us somewhere fiction rarely goes, introducing us to characters we rarely get to meet. The unforgettable result is the story of a boy fleeing his present, a man fleeing his past, and a trio of chimpanzees who are struggling not to flee at all.
Review: If you follow this blog, you know that Kellee and I are advocates for Eliot Schrefer’s writing. He is an incredibly talented writer; his settings feel authentic in that he makes far away places seem very close to home. I develop a strong kinship with his characters—animal or human. Kellee has been raving about Threatened since the ALAN conference, and I knew I wanted to read it as soon as I got a hang of being a new mom. It didn’t disappoint. The writing is stunning.
I expected Threatened to be very similar to Endangered, but I was wrong. Endangered is about an American girl visiting her mother in a Congolese bonobo sanctuary when a civil war breaks out. Threatened, on the other hand, is about an orphan boy from Gabon who goes into the wild with a professor in order to learn more about chimpanzees. But these books are more than their settings and the animals. They teach us about what it means to be human. Threatened, in particular, made me think about humanity’s evolution and the difficulties that come from living in the wild. I couldn’t help but think about how far humanity has strayed from nature. Even when Luc feels that he wants for nothing, he is ashamed that he still holds material desires. This book makes readers think critically, and it would be a great book to use in the classroom.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: After reading this book, I wanted to learn more about chimpanzees and how they are different from humans. Schrefer’s book has a call to action. He gives suggestions of how we might help these endangered animals. In particular, he discusses the sad state of animal testing and provides readers with ways to take action. This book will help students become critical thinkers, and hopefully, teachers will help students enact social justice for these animals which are so genetically close to us.
Discussion Questions: Are humans too far removed from nature?; How does Luc become more animalistic after he lives for extensive time in the wild? Are his changes mental? Physical?; What do the chimpanzees teach us about humanity? How are they similar and different from us?; What can we do to help these endangered species?
We Flagged: “We can try so hard, but in some basic way we’re bound by how we’re raised. There’s no escaping it. We can love someone and want to be open to the feeling but fail because our hearts got wired one way long before we knew it was happening. We can break our own hearts because of what our souls believe” (Chapter 10).
**Please note: This quote is taken from the NetGalley. It may be different in the published version of the book.**
Read This If You Loved: Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, Into That Forest by Louis Nowra, Dog Boy by Eva Hornung, Second Nature by Alice Hoffman, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer