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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.
The liana vine was older and brown this time, but I recognized the snare’s knots. “Is that a mock man?” I whispered. Prof nodded sadly. “Yes. It was a chimpanzee. Do you still have the knife on you?” I nodded, then climbed the tree and cut the skeleton loose. It clattered to the ground, flies and maggots and scraps of skin falling from it. Some rotted tissue opened up at the center of the corpse, letting out a terrible smell. I tugged at Prof’s sleeve. “We’ll be sick! There’s nothing you can
caused a stream of blood to run down my face and into my mouth, and the taste of it stilled me. I huffed to the ground, cross-legged, while Prof rummaged the bottle of rubbing alcohol out of the valise. “Where is this from, anyway?” he asked. “I don’t remember bringing it.” I stayed punishingly silent as he began to tend to my wound. “Not talking to me, huh?” Prof said. He peered into my face, his eyes wrinkling, daring me to smile. Finally I did, because what I had to say next would feel so
heard in return was a strangled cry. I raced to the bottom of the hill, burst through the tree line, and jumped across the narrow brown ravine. I found Prof lying half in and half out of the river. His galabia was soaked, and he’d lost one of his shoes to the river. I rushed over and kneeled beside him, cradling his head in my lap while the river tugged at my clothes. He was breathing shallowly, his eyes pressed shut. “What’s the matter?” I cried out. But he didn’t answer. He’d lost his
returned to the fall, the water level was noticeably higher. I’d have thought the chimps would take cover from the rain, but I found them out in the open. The weather had them entranced; they stood on two feet and swayed, barely reacting as I maneuvered down the side of the waterfall and placed my last bundle in my new home. A kapok tree loomed over the grassy rectangle of space, keeping much of the rainwater away. Omar had found himself a particularly dry spot, hunched close over his knees and
and roasted baby parrots once or twice on hungrier days, but she seemed to adore these birds so much that I didn’t tell her about that. After I’d shown her my first campsite with Prof, Madame Osgood asked to see the spot where I’d chased away the hunters. No sign of them was left, of course. The rifles, the tents, the sad donkey, the wrecked ground, the body of Monsieur Tatagani, were all gone. But she took photographs anyway. She asked if I still had Beggar’s hide, and I was glad that I could