by Shan Correa
Paul Silva lives in a paradise—a little farm high in the hills of a lush, green island in Hawaii—where he can see the ocean from his front porch. His disabled father, who makes a living by raising, training, and caring for roosters, has sheltered Paul from the harsh reality of the ties between the family business and the underworld of cockfighting. Fascinated by the strong, beautiful, spirited birds, Paul is proud of his father’s work.
But after his schoolmate Honey reminds him of the terrible fate of these roosters, Paul begins to question his family’s role in such a cruel sport. A friend’s older brother, decides to initiate the two boys into the macho culture of cockfighting and force them to “become men.” At the cockfight, Paul is shocked by what he sees. Illegal drugs. Gambling. But worst of all is the spectacle in the cockpit. With razor-sharp blades—gaffs—attached to their heels, the birds ruthlessly attack each other in a bloody fight to the death.
Sickened by the brutal spectacle, Paul vows to find a way to get his family out of the business altogether, only to come up against a disturbing quandary: raising roosters may be the only way the Silvas can continue to live in this idyllic place.
Eventually Paul comes to see that “being a man” has nothing to do with wielding the power to hurt people and animals, and he learns to meet the tests of making decisions in the real world, which is far from a paradise.
Total Pages: 224
Size: 6 x 8 1/2
Age Range: 8 – 12
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AR Quiz#: 136596
AR Reading Level: 4.4
AR Points: 8
F&P (Fountas & Pinnell)
F&P Level: Y
F&P Grade: 6
Reading Counts Level: 4.5
Reading Counts Points: 14
Reading Counts Interest Level: 3-5
“A fascinating look at the United States most mainlanders have never seen.” ―Kirkus
“Reminiscent of Graham Salisbury’s fiction, Correa’s debut is strongly colored by its distinctive regional setting and culture…Paul’s narrative voice is spot-on for his 12 years…” ―Booklist
“Through Paul’s sensitive eyes, the novel provides a hard-hitting, but never gratuitous view of the brutal reality of cockfighting that’s contextualized by ethics and customs.” ―Publishers Weekly
“…a winning middle-grade tale destined to become a local classic.” ―Honolulu Advertiser
“…As a coming of age story (for ages 9-12), ‘Gaff’ by Shan Correa is elevated by its unusual setting and atypical family struggles…” ―Midwest Book Review
“The book’s unique topic and engaging story make it a sure entry for most middle grade and young adult must-read lists.” ―Rutgers University: EconKids.com
Ka Palapala Po’okela Awards (Excellence in “Aloha from Across the Sea”) ―Hawaii Book Publishers Association 2011
Nene Award Suggested Reading List ―Hawai’i DoE, Hawai’i State Public Library System, Hawai’i ASL, and the Hawai’i Library Association 2013
Meet the Author
Shan Correa holds degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii. She has worked as a writing consultant, a freelance writer, and an editor and has published many newspaper articles and stories for children in magazines such as Cricket and Jack and Jill. Gaff is her first children’s book. Correa lives in Hawaii.