Richie's Picks: WILD BOY: THE REAL LIFE OF THE SAVAGE OF AVEYRON
Richie's Picks: WILD BOY: THE REAL LIFE OF THE SAVAGE OF AVEYRON by Mary Losure and Timothy Basil Ering, ill., Candlewick, March 2013, 176p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-5669-0
"But then they sent me away
To teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh responsible, practical
And then they showed me a world
Where I could be so dependable"
-- Supertramp "The Logical Song"
"What was the wild boy thinking?
"He was content with simple things, Constans-Saint-Estève noticed. He would hold an acorn in his hand for the longest time, gazing at it as though the mere sight of it made him happy. Constans-Saint-Estève wrote that the boy had an 'air of satisfaction that nothing could trouble.'
"Nothing, that is, except being trapped inside the house."
In 1797, when it is estimated that he was then nine, the first reports circulated about a young, naked boy seen foraging in the forest. Over the following years, the wild boy was periodically captured, detained, fed, exhibited to townsfolk, and observed by armchair scientists before he would once again escape back into the forest. In WILD BOY: THE REAL LIFE OF THE SAVAGE OF AVEYRON, author Mary Losure repeatedly depicts the absence of humanity exhibited by so many of the young boy's various captors.
WILD BOY is an interesting read because it is a strange true story. We keep wondering whether someone will connect with the wild boy so as to provoke communications that will solve the mystery of where he came from. We keep wondering whether someone will connect with him to an extent that they ease up on treating him like a specimen. We keep wondering whether he will develop an identity like a normal teen or go on to develop any real relationships.
It is also an interesting read because this is today's nonfiction where you have a story with a lot of pieces missing and an author who recognizes and points out these potholes rather than trying to fill in these holes with fiction or unverifiable information. And this is a really great thing because it adds to the sense of mystery while teaching readers that we don't know everything about everything. It will help young readers grasp the idea that we want to rely on verifiable information, not just rumor and innuendo.
"When a stormy wind blew, he still laughed out loud. He was still filled with joy and longing -- and sometimes sadness -- at the sight of a bright moon, a snow-covered field, a deep woods filled with light and shadow..."
Owing to that measure of wildness within, and that sense that no one ever really knows the me in me, this well-written mystery about the wild boy left me filled with both appreciation and sadness.
Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/ http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/partingtonr/partingtonr.php