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The Goats by Brock Cole

The Goats (original 1987; edition 1990)

by Brock Cole

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363829,902 (3.53)1 / 9
Title:The Goats
Authors:Brock Cole
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (1990), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Goats by Brock Cole (1987)


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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Two misfits help each other through the torment of summer camp. I loved this story. ( )
  StefanieGeeks | Jan 3, 2014 |
What a pleasure it is watching the shunned children get revenge on the mean kids. ( )
  paakre | Apr 27, 2013 |
This is an ALA recommended book, and usually I like their suggestions, but I really, really didn't like this book. I found it boring and slow, and even the font was aggravating. Not often that I give a book such a low rating, but this really, really did nothing for me, which is surprising because I liked the premise of the book. It just was not a good read for me. Would not recommend it to anyone.

A boy and a girl are each marooned on an island as a camp prank, and they escape before their tormentors can return the next day and take them back to camp. They decide to go on the run, and cause the camp a bit of anxiety about their disappearance. ( )
  JRlibrary | Aug 6, 2010 |
Cole, B. (1987). The Goats. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux


When campers do a mean prank to two outsider thirteen-year-olds by stranding them naked on an island, the bullied boy and girl decide to escape the island and not return to the camp. The journey that follows feels like a Gary Paulsen book set a few miles closer to civilization.

More than anything the boy and the girl (as they are referred to throughout most of the book) seem to desire control over their lives and respect from the people they must deal with. Throughout the book, they gradually grow from victims to rule breakers to confident friends who are committed to each other. As thirteen-year-olds, both the boy and the girl are dealing with issues of sexual awakening.

It is also worth noting that the story is told from multiple perspectives. Readers see overlaps of accounts of events not only from the perspectives of the boy and the girl, but also from the perspective of the girl’s mother.

The book also contains subtle references to works of art and Greek gods and considers, to some extent, issues of race and class.

As a person who has spent a number of summers at camps, I must admit I had ‘suspension of disbelief’ issues with the camp administrators and with one of the mother’s reactions to two campers going missing. Other struggles include the fact that the narrative is a little dated (pre-cell phones, pre-credit cards).

Activities to do with the book:

This would be a good book to use to begin a discussion on bullying or victimization.

Some of the plot points could likely trigger a strong emotional response from readers at one of several points in the narrative, so it could be used with particularly taciturn students to get them sharing their opinions.

Favorite Quotes:

“When he came back to the beach with wood for the fire Bryce grabbed him from behind. The firewood scattered, bouncing off his knees and shins” (p. 3).

“What…” he said carefully, trying to think of something that would quiet her down. “What if we weren’t here when they came back?” (p. 10).

  SJKessel | Jan 14, 2009 |
I read this book primarily because it has been one of the most challenged books in American libraries, and I'm always interested in reading challenged and banned books. The Goats tells the story of two teens, referred to mainly as "the boy" and "the girl" through most of the book, who are the victims of a cruel and humiliating camp prank. They are stripped and left for the night on a small island, a camp tradition that involves choosing two "goats." In a courageous move, however, they choose to make their way off of the island and disappear. I think that I would have appreciated the book more if I had read it as a teenager. The sense of isolation, hopelessness and embarrassment which I remember so well from my own adolescence were very well written, and tempered with the tentative happiness from finding a friend who understands you. The book does show its age, primarily through cultural references like breakdancing teens, but the story itself still feels relevant to me. Teens who don't mind reading older books would likely enjoy this story of two misfits searching for their place in the world.

As far as the banning/challenging is concerned, it seems to me that the likely censorship premise centers around nudity. Since both teens were stripped and abandoned, they spend a large portion of the beginning of the book nude or in makeshift clothing. In addition, their predicament leads them to become very close very quickly, often holding hands and sleeping together for warmth. The nudity and closeness are not, in my opinion, sensationalist, casual, or really all that sexual in nature. I found The Goats to be entirely appropriate for its teenage audience. ( )
2 vote librarymeg | Jan 21, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brock Coleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gegenheimer, AnnikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nordenhagen, ErikaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374425752, Paperback)

Fifteenth anniversary of the classic

On the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of The Goats, Farrar, Straus and Giroux is proud to reissue a new paperback edition featuring Brock Cole’s original hardcover jacket art as well as the black-and-white pen-and-ink chapter openings.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:04 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Stripped and marooned on a small island by their fellow campers, a boy and a girl form an uneasy bond that grows into a deep friendship when they decide to run away and disappear without a trace.

(summary from another edition)

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