The Children and the Wolves

( 2 )

Overview

Printz Honor-winning author Adam Rapp spins a raw, gripping, and ultimately redemptive story about three disaffected teens and a kidnapped child.

Three teenagers — a sharp, well-to-do girl named Bounce and two struggling boys named Wiggins and Orange — are holding a four-yearold girl hostage in Orange’s basement. The little girl answers to "the Frog" and seems content to play a video game about wolves all day long, a game that parallels the reality around her. As the stakes grow...

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The Children and the Wolves

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Overview

Printz Honor-winning author Adam Rapp spins a raw, gripping, and ultimately redemptive story about three disaffected teens and a kidnapped child.

Three teenagers — a sharp, well-to-do girl named Bounce and two struggling boys named Wiggins and Orange — are holding a four-yearold girl hostage in Orange’s basement. The little girl answers to "the Frog" and seems content to play a video game about wolves all day long, a game that parallels the reality around her. As the stakes grow higher and the guilt and tension mount, Wiggins cracks and finally brings Frog to a trusted adult. Not for the faint of heart, Adam Rapp’s powerful, mesmerizing narrative ventures deep into psychological territory that few dare to visit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Writing in the visceral narrative style readers have come to expect from him, Rapp (Punkzilla) plunges readers into the minds of three emotionally disturbed teens and the four-year-old girl they have kidnapped and keep chained up in a basement. The driving force behind the trio’s actions is intelligent and cold-blooded 14-year-old Bounce, who tests the limits of her power by manipulating insecure Wiggins and violent Orange into being her pawns, “my perfect little monkey boys,” feeding them prescription drugs, toying with them sexually, and making them fight each other. The three collect donations for the girl’s disappearance with the aim of buying a Glock to kill an elderly poet. Only Wiggins’s struggling conscience stands in the way of Bounce’s bloodlust. Bigotry, neglect, violence, and desensitization to all of the above intermingle in a story that’s particularly devoid of hope, even for Rapp. Even four-year-old Frog seems beyond salvation, as she obsessively plays a violent video game that isn’t any more disturbing than what’s going on in the rest of the book. It’s an unrelentingly bleak indictment of a world far gone, where the best—perhaps only—option is to abandon society altogether. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
Readers should know the kind of grueling, soulful, gut-punching work to expect from Rapp. Still, be warned: this is his most hellish - and hellishly readable - vision yet...he's also creating, book by book, a vital library of the furies and hopes of a forgotten underclass, and always in their own confused, desperate, and endlessly resourceful voices...few YA authors are so consistently lauded. Multiple copies may be required.
—Booklist (starred review)

Rapp's poetic use of language makes for a brutally beautiful read... The author continues to push the boundaries of fiction for teens by providing an unrelentingly real and intensely powerful voice for the disenfranchised youth who dangle on society's edge, forgotten until they commit random acts of violence because they have been shown no other way. Hard to read, impossible to forget.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

VOYA - Jeff Mann
Carla Reuschel, known as Bounce, is a middle school genius. But Bounce is definitely not your typical honors student at Tom Toomer Junior High. She and her two male sidekicks, Wiggins and Orange, have kidnapped a three-year-old girl and keep her chained in Orange's basement. There the three occasionally care for her and allow her to play a video game called The Children and the Wolves. Bounce masterminded the plan and controls the two boys with her intelligence, drugs, and sex. Her plan to kidnap the child, nicknamed the Frog, comes about after she is involved in an argument with a guest speaker—a poet—in her honors English class. So outraged and disgusted that the poet disagrees with her, Bounce devises and enacts a plan to kidnap the child, then go door-to-door collecting money from people under the guise that the money would be donated to help find the missing child. Bounce then plans on using the money to "make a famous poet disappear." Ultimately, one of the kidnappers begins to realize what the trio has done and sets out to release the child. Told in alternating viewpoints from the three kidnappers' and occasionally the missing child's point of view, this short novel paints a grim and scary look at three loners carrying out a cruel and purposeless crime. Rapp's novel will not be for everyone. The work is stark and told in short paragraphs, and while it is a quick read, it is not an easy one. The characters are virtually without a single positive trait. Bounce, in particular, seems to be so amoral, it is difficult to imagine how she became the way she is. In some ways she is reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis's main character in American Psycho. Rapp does not explore the backstory but stays in the moment and focuses on the crime at hand, yet he describes the adults in the three students' lives as either nonexistent or incredibly ill equipped for parenting. The three treat the child as a neglected pet and do not seem to realize that there may be consequences for their actions, and Bounce's character seems to act a little too adult-like throughout the novel. This novel is tough, difficult, and disturbing yet still compulsively page-turning. Reviewer: Jeff Mann
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Bounce, a sociopathic fourteen-year-old and her two thuggish thirteen-year-old sidekicks, Wiggins and Orange, have kidnapped a four-year-old child and are holding her hostage while allegedly fundraising for her safe return. In reality, they plan to buy a gun with the money and use it to kill a poet who has disagreed with Bounce. The story is told in alternating voices between the three teenagers and occasionally the child. The book title is also the title of a video game that the teens have given the child and that she plays compulsively. Bounce's parents are wealthy and inattentive, completely unaware of what their daughter does most of the time. Additionally, they work for a pharmaceutical company so Bounce has ready availability to prescription drugs such as Oxycontin. Bounce manipulates her associates with drugs and sex and their willingness to do whatever she expects them to do is both disconcerting and realistic. Wiggins eventually comes to regret his involvement in the kidnapping and devises a plan to free their captive, providing the only hint of morality in the story. Adam Rapp is well known for his hard-hitting young adult novels, but this is much more disquieting than his others to date. Compelling but disturbing and definitely not for anyone under the age of 14 or for those who are easily upset. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
ALAN Review - Henry Robinson
In this psychological thriller, you experience an urban community through the eyes of three teenagers and the three-year-old they kidnap. Bounce is a smart, tough girl that won't stand down from a fight no matter how big, and has a good grip of what the world is, not what it is cracked up to be. She technically lives with her parents, but never sees them. Orange lives with his physically and arguably mentally disabled father. Wiggins lives with his marijuana- and heroin-addicted mother. The only intelligent teen out of the three is Bounce, making her the de facto leader of their trio. They decide one day to steal Frog, a three-year-old girl, and keep her in the unsanitary basement of an apartment building. Frog plays a game called The Children and the Wolves, which oddly mirrors the circumstances she and the trio go through. Follow the trio through murder, sexual deviance, and crime. Experience Wiggins's inner debate—to be a part of the life of crime and immorality he knows, or to do what he knows is right. Reviewer: Henry Robinson,
Kirkus Reviews
Two wayward teens fall under the evil thrall of a third in this disturbing tale by the Printz Honor–winning author of Punkzilla (2009). Fourteen-year-old amoral honors student Bounce convinces two socially challenged and drug-addicted seventh graders, Wiggins and Orange, to kidnap a 3-year-old girl and imprison her in Orange's basement. Then the three manufacture posters of the girl they have dubbed the Frog and use them to collect "donations" for the missing child. In reality, Bounce is saving up to buy a gun, which she intends to use on a local author who offended her during a class visit. Orange is all in, but sensitive Wiggins, who imagines his soul as "a little perfect crystal egg floating in your chest," begins to question the plan, especially when Bounce hints that the Frog's time is running out. Though the slim novel's premise is profoundly unsettling, Rapp's poetic use of language makes for a brutally beautiful read. There is a drug dealer with "a face like a rubber shark" and buildings that "look perfect, like they got baked in a oven with some brownies." The author continues to push the boundaries of fiction for teens by providing an unrelentingly real and intensely powerful voice for the disenfranchised youth who dangle on society's edge, forgotten until they commit random acts of violence because they have been shown no other way. Hard to read, impossible to forget. (Fiction. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Bounce, 14, is on a path of horrifying behavior. Her wealthy parents are in the pharmaceutical business, are rarely home, and pay little attention to their sociopathic daughter. Bounce has endless access to drugs like Oxycontin, and she uses them to attract and control male sidekicks Orange and Wiggins. Both come from poverty and troubled homes; Orange is the more willing of the two. When Bounce gets angry at a visiting poet in her Honors English class, she decides to seek revenge through a complicated scheme that involves kidnapping a toddler and some disturbing violence. This book is reminiscent of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (Random, 1965), only it involves middle school students. It has a healthy infusion of cringe-worthy scenes and a cavalier attitude toward sex. Wiggins is the only character who seems to have any conscience at all, but he is not enough to make readers feel good about this novel. But that is not the author's intention. The raw and edgy story line and language have a powerful impact, and the novel will deservedly find an appreciative audience. Give this one to mature fans of books like Joanne Harris's Blueeyedboy (Doubleday, 2010) and Sapphire's Push (Knopf, 1996).—Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763653378
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,024,872
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.87 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Rapp is the acclaimed author of Punkzilla, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book; Under the Wolf, Under the Dog, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist and winner of the Schneider Family Book Award; and 33 Snowfish, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. He is also an accomplished playwright, a writer for Season Three of the HBO series In Treatment, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama in 2007. Adam Rapp lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 2, 2012

    save your time and money, skip it

    The only good things I can say about this book is the cover was appealing and thankfully it was a short book.

    Normally I like a good dark twisted book but this was just pointless. The story is told mainly from three characters and each of their narrative sounds exactly alike, ignorant and racist. I cannot stand when an author TRIES to have multiple characters tell the story and FAIL at giving each their own voice.

    The mastermind behind the crime is a bored, spoiled, neglected rich girl who meets her two "monkeys" in detention then tells them that they are going to kidnap a girl, then make money because of it. A bunch of fights, talk about dead rotting animals, defying authority, plotting to kill an old man and his dog, a group shower and many racist remarks about damn near everyone,then one boy gets a conscious (not really) and leaves the group, drops the girl off with the old man they plotted to kill, then he goes off into the woods. The end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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