The Goats

Author: Brock Cole
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 192
Grade 8-10 Wimp, nerd, social retard some kids just naturally become scapegoats. Luckily an inner strength and an ability to survive sometimes surface, and these same scapegoats can confound their parents and acquaintances. Cole portrays this when fellow campers leave wimpy Howie Mitchell and ``real dog'' Laura Golden naked and scared on an island. When counselors arrive looking for them, Howie misunderstands and fears the return of their tormenters. He forces non-swimmer Laura to hang onto a log and float to the mainland. Reaching the safety of a deserted cabin, and realizing that they can't face returning to camp, they plot their survival until Parent's Weekend, when Laura's mother will visit, offering hope of sanctuary. Cole manages to instill just the right amount of suspense in their adventures through a potentially dangerous street kid, a cleaning woman who wants to turn them in to the police, and a sheriff who eventually snags them. Neither Howie nor Laura are initially likable kids, each either worrying or whining too much, but as they grow so does one's regard for them. The final distillation is a strong, well-blended story of modern day survival. A comparable book for older readers would be Lloyd Kropp's Greencastle (Freundlich, 1987). Pam Spencer, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Fairfax County, Va.
-- School Library Journal