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Threatened Hardcover – February 25, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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

From Booklist

Schrefer’s Endangered (2012) painted a compassionate portrait of the bonobos of the Congo; here he turns to Gabon, chimpanzees, and the plight of orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS. Luc lives with other young orphan boys under the roof of Monsieur Tatagani, an unscrupulous man who exploits his charges. Professor Abdul Mohammad, a prosperous-looking Arab, meets Luc and hires him as his assistant, taking him deep into the jungle to study chimpanzees. Luc discovers he has an interest and aptitude for the work, and he thrives under Prof’s tutelage. All too soon, though, Prof disappears under mysterious circumstances, and Luc must survive on his own. With only Prof’s tiny pet vervet for company, Luc watches and learns from the chimps. When humans again appear, it’s clear we as a species are far less civilized than the chimps. Of special note is the tender, nonjudgmental portrait of Prof, a closeted gay man who lies about most things, but provides the first caring home Luc has known in years. Schrefer’s landscape descriptions are rich and evocative, and his characters, both human and chimpanzee, are complex and fascinating. Grades 8-12. --Debbie Carton

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (February 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545551439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545551434
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm spending too long thinking of a rating and it's driving me crazy, but it's AT LEAST 4 stars.

As was the case with Endangered (the first in a quartet of great ape books, with each focusing on a different one: bonobos, chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas), Threatened is not your average YA novel. It's a fine, well-written piece of realistic fiction that reads almost like a compelling non-fiction novel, and it has a purpose: to raise awareness of something that's very important.

Threatened tells the story of Luc, an orphaned teenager (I think that's his age) living day to day in Franceville, a city in Gabon (a small country in Africa, I believe). He spends his days trying to make money to pay off his debut so he can gain freedom from the orphan-taker-inner, Monsieur Tatagani. After Luc's mother died of the worm, he was put in Tatagani's care (a wretched man, by the way) until he could pay off his mother's hospital bill. But after his little sister dies, too, Luc finds himself without a family and alone in the world, except for the fellow orphans in Tatagani's care.

But things change when Luc tries to steal from Prof, a professor who's going Inside (the jungle is Inside, and what's not is Outside) to study chimpanzees, or what Luc calls mock men. Luc ends up going with Prof into the jungle, and it's there that he stumbles into more than just the wilderness: chimpanzees, a different kind of life, and a family.

I don't know if you know this about me, but I have MEGA LOVE for animals. Like, if I had to choose between saving an animal or a human in a fire, I'd probably choose the animal. (Okay, not really. Maybe.) So I was immediately drawn to this set of Schrefer's books because they had a large focus on animals, and not just any animals, but primates!
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Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Norah Piehl

Eliot Schrefer's previous novel, ENDANGERED (a finalist for the National Book Award), was set in the Congo and focused on a girl who befriends a bonobo and must help the two of them survive in the wake of deadly violence. Schrefer himself admits in an afterword to THREATENED, his new novel, that chimpanzees "got a bad rap" in ENDANGERED. "Compared to the peaceful, matriarchal bonobos, they seemed like abusive villains," Schrefer writes. What won him over, he notes, was reading Jane Goodall's memoirs, which helped him gain understanding of the complex chimp society and recognition of the apes' commonalities (for better or for worse) with their closest relatives, humans.

In THREATENED, Schrefer explores these common ties through the character of Luc, a boy growing up on the streets in the African country of Gabon. Having lost the rest of his family to AIDS, Luc has grown up fending for himself, working odd jobs to repay the debt he owes to Monsieur Tatagani, in whose home he sleeps at night. A botched attempt to rob a man passing through town results not in an arrest, as Luc had feared, but in a job offer --- Prof, as the man asks to be called, is headed into the jungle to study chimpanzees and needs a research assistant. Luc is terrified of the chimps --- one of his most vivid memories of his mother is her story that the chimps are "mock men," that they are what people turn into if they stay out too late at night.

But when Prof pays off his debt to Monsieur Tatagani, Luc can hardly turn down the offer, and he soon finds himself headed deep into the jungle, to a place where few Gabonese go.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I've probably told you, I love apes. So I was thrilled when I heard that Eliot Schrefer, whose novel about bonobos, Endangered, was a National Book Award finalist, plans to write three additional books on each of the three additional great apes: chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas.

And I'm happy to report that the second book in the series, Threatened (which deals with the bonobo's better-known cousin, the chimpanzee), is a small masterpiece, gorgeously written and profoundly moving.

Like Endangered, Threatened focuses on a young person's relationship with a great ape family--in this case, young Luc's relationship with the chimpanzees of his home country, Gabon. An orphan whose mother and younger sister died of AIDS and whose father abandoned his surviving child, Luc slaves away for a vicious debt collector to pay his mother's medical bill. But then salvation arrives in the form of a mysterious Muslim who calls himself Prof, a researcher intent on becoming Africa's answer to Jane Goodall. Though Luc joins Prof merely to escape his troubles, he forms a stronger connection to the man once they reach the jungles of Gabon and encounter a small and fragile family of chimpanzees. There Luc must decide which bonds to honor: his allegiance to Prof, or his commitment to the non-human subjects of Prof's research.

Threatened is a character-driven novel, with wonderful portraits not only of the frightened Luc and the shady, haunted Prof but of the chimpanzees whom Luc names Drummer and Mango.
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