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CASTAWAYS ON CHIMP ISLAND by Sandy Landsman

CASTAWAYS ON CHIMP ISLAND

By

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Atheneum

Pressed by changes in their lives, the characters in this story move toward self-knowledge and mature judgment as expected from human characters; they are, however, chimpanzees. Danny, the narrator, is stuck on an island with a group of other chimps from abandoned research projects. Learning to live in the wild is difficult since they are used to TV, processed food and walks down Broadway; they are outraged at being left to fend for themselves, and determined to return to civilization. These chimps are fluent in American sign language (""I had hoped you would have had enough respect for us to provide more suitable living quarters,"" says one to a human scientist). In plotting escapes, their individual personalities emerge: Danny is a decent sort; Roger, bright but treacherous; young Nibbles, naive, passive and subservient--also the only female. There is some thinly disguised social commentary; the chimps play dominance games, and treat an uncommunicative member of their group with great cruelty because he's different. Roger, the most ambitious and intellectual, exhibits no trace of loyalty or compassion, and nearly gets Danny killed. The characters might as well have been human, especially Danny, who has a teen-ager's vocabulary and sensibilities. Instead of playing for laughs, the author gives this a satiric edge. Shallow.