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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, ...

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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.

Finalist for the 2014 National Book Award for Young People's Literature
A 2014 Parents' Choice Award Silver Honor Winner for Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/02/2013
Schrefer switches focus from bonobos to chimpanzees in this engrossing, meticulously researched, and gripping tale of survival in the deep wilds of Gabon, a thematic follow-up to 2012’s Endangered. Luc, a 13-year-old orphan and debt slave, is hired by Prof, who wants to become the first African “janegoodall,” and the two venture into the jungle to study the chimpanzees that dwell within. When tragedy strikes, Luc is left alone, forced to survive by any means necessary. Forging a tentative truce with a small family of chimpanzees, he ekes out a desperate though increasingly satisfying existence. As man and “mock man” grow to understand one another, they take on all manner of threats, including human hunters, animal predators, and even another chimpanzee tribe. Schrefer’s passion for the material and empathy for the characters shows on every page, and his non-human subjects are every bit as complex and fascinating as narrator Luc. The setting comes fully to life, and Schrefer pulls no punches as he showcases the beauty and danger of both urban Gabon and the jungle. Ages 12–up. Agent: Richard Pine, InkWell Management. (Mar.)
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Rachel Wadham
Street urchin Luc’s life takes a dramatic turn when a professor convinces him to accompany him into the jungles of Gabon, Africa, while he studies chimpanzees. Living deep in the wild, Luc finds himself developing a strong bond with both the professor and the chimpanzees. When the harsh conditions result in the professor’s death, Luc finds himself all alone but still dedicated to finishing their work. Establishing himself as part of the chimp’s group, Luc observes and protects them. Content with his new life, his loyalties are divided when a photographer arrives, but Luc’s love for his new family helps him realize where home really is. Schrefer’s newest novel, which is thematically connected to his previous work Endangered (Scholastic, 2012/Voya December 2012), demonstrates why he was a National Book Award finalist. His use of detail and extensive figurative language brings the exotic environment to life with vivid realism. A plot packed with action and suspense makes this novel stand alongside other great survival adventures, including those by Paulsen, London, and O’Dell. Schrefer’s real skill is evident in the way he humanizes the animal characters just enough to bring them to life while not overdoing it so as to make them more man than beast. Touching on a strong ecological message that is woven expertly into the fabric of the novel, this work is crafted in a way that is sure to bring it accolades from teen readers and the professionals who work with them. Reviewer: Rachel Wadham; Ages 12 to 18.
Children's Literature - Tina Chan
Twelve-year-old Luc is an orphan in Gabon who lives in debt slavery under Monsieur Tatagani. His father left his family; his mother and sister passed away. Luc meets Professor Abdul Mohammad, who claims to be a primatologist at the University of Leipzig, whom Luc calls Prof. Prof is there to study chimpanzees. He pays Monsieur Tatagani to release Luc to him. After Luc tries, unsuccessfully, to steal Prof’s suitcase, Prof does not get upset. Instead, he gives Luc a job. Prof, Luc, and Omar, Prof’s monkey, live in the jungle to study chimpanzees. They meet chimpanzees Luc calls Drummer and Mango, among other chimpanzees. Luc quickly considers them family. As Luc and Prof develop a friendship, Luc discovers Prof paid Monsieur Tatagani for his release with counterfeit money. Prof disappears from their camp, only later does he discover that a leopard killed him. Now that Luc is the only human living in the jungle, he must fend for himself and his chimpanzee family. Monsieur Tatagani returns for Luc, only to have the chimpanzees scare him away. Determined to get revenge, Monsieur Tatagani returns with hunters, but the chimpanzees kill Monsieur Tatagani and some of the hunters; the rest escape. Hearing from one of the hunters who had escaped about a boy who lives with chimpanzees in the jungle, a female English photographer from the National Geographic Society visits Luc to document his life. A beautiful story of a courageous boy, who experiences love, hate, and loss, is finally happy with his newfound family. Reviewer: Tina Chan; Ages 12 up.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-01-04
The author of Endangered (2012) introduces another primate species, offering a poignant demonstration of connection between chimpanzees and humans. When AIDs orphan Luc goes into the Gabon jungle with professor Abdul Mohammed, a scientist who frees him from his bondholder and plans to study chimpanzees in the wild, the resourceful boy finds a surprising new family and makes a real home. Luc's story is riveting and seldom comfortable, for him or for his readers. The chimpanzees are aggressive, but they are not as lethal as the leopard or as personally dangerous as the bushmeat hunter the professor frightens away or Monsieur Tatagani, determined to return Luc to his stable of street boys. Drummer, the young male chimp Luc rescues from a trap, and Mango, his toddler sister, have personalities as real and appealing as the boy himself. Luc's first-person narration is so lively and detailed readers won't notice that he seems remarkably acute for a 12- or 13-year-old, even one who has watched his mother and baby sister die and lived, afterward, by his own wits. The particulars of his daily life Inside—where Gabonese believe humans shouldn't go—will enthrall those who enjoy adventure, and the intimate glimpse of chimpanzee daily life is a treat for nature lovers. Engrossing action and characters readers will keep thinking about in a splendid survival story. (Adventure. 12-16)
From the Publisher

Praise for Threatened:

A National Book Award finalist

*"Engrossing action and characters readers will keep thinking about in a splendid survival story." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*"Gripping…Schrefer pulls no punches as he showcases the beauty and danger of both urban Gabon and the jungle." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Fascinating and sure to lead to discussion." --School Library Journal

"Schrefer's compassion and empathy for the people and chimpanzees and other animals of this part of Africa come through loud and clear." --Horn Book

Praise for Endangered:

A National Book Award finalist

"Dazzling, big-hearted . . . As riveting as the action is, it's the nuanced portraits of the characters, human and ape, that make the story so deeply affecting." –The New York Times Book Review

* "Schrefer spares no detail . . . This drama is clearly written from the heart." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Taut, heart-wrenching." --The Washington Post

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—After the death of his mother and sister, Luc is left in the hands of a moneylender, Monsieur Tatagani. One of many orphans forced to do Tatagani's bidding, Luc has found a way to be useful and earn a few coins wiping glasses in a bar in Gabon. One night a man shows up with a monkey and a silver attaché case, claiming to be a researcher sent by the National Geographic Society to study the chimpanzees in the interior. The mysterious man, called "the Prof," offers Luc a job as his helper. From this modest beginning comes a tale of survival and discovery for both humans and chimps. There are no easy answers here, but deep themes are explored. The plight of the endangered chimps is brought to the attention of readers, as are the challenges of socioeconomic status and geographic realities of Gabon. There are times when Luc's voice as an uneducated orphan adolescent seems vivid and real, at other times less so. Still, the valor and soul of Luc is captivating. Fascinating and sure to lead to discussion.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545551434
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 86,508
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eliot Schrefer's Endangered and Threatened were named as finalists for the National Book Award. He is also the author of The Deadly Sister, The School for Dangerous Girls, Glamorous Disasters, and The New Kid. He lives in New York City. Visit him online at
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    Posted March 4, 2014


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