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Wild Boy
Cover of Wild Boy
Wild Boy
The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron
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What happens when society finds a wild boy alone in the woods and tries to civilize him? A true story from the author of The Fairy Ring. One day in 1798, woodsmen in southern France returned from the...
What happens when society finds a wild boy alone in the woods and tries to civilize him? A true story from the author of The Fairy Ring. One day in 1798, woodsmen in southern France returned from the...
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  • What happens when society finds a wild boy alone in the woods and tries to civilize him? A true story from the author of The Fairy Ring. One day in 1798, woodsmen in southern France returned from the forest having captured a naked boy. He had been running wild, digging for food, and was covered with scars. In the village square, people gathered around, gaping and jabbering in words the boy didn't understand. And so began the curious public life of the boy known as the Savage of Aveyron, whose journey took him all the way to Paris. Though the wild boy's world was forever changed, some things stayed the same: sometimes, when the mountain winds blew, "he looked up at the sky, made sounds deep in his throat, and gave great bursts of laughter." In a moving work of narrative nonfiction that reads like a novel, Mary Losure invests another compelling story from history with vivid and arresting new life.

About the Author-

  • When I was a child, I read mostly fantasy. When I grew up, I discovered that nonfiction books don't have to be just facts —they can be true stories that read like fiction.

    Now I write that kind of nonfiction for kids.

    Isaac the Alchemist is the story of young Isaac Newton, whose childhood search for magic grew into a truly magical career.

    Wild Boy is about a real wild boy trying to find a home in the human world.

    In The Fairy Ring, two young girls fool Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the world's most famous detective, into believing they've taken photographs of real fairies.

    I still love Narnia, but you can't go there. You can travel the real world. I want kids to know that amazing things can happen there, too.

    Three Things You May Not Know About Me:

    I once lived on a farm and had two pet goats.

    Long ago, I played ice hockey for the University of Vermont. Ours was the first women's team in the school's long history of the sport. Some of us had only figure skates. At games, we used the men's practice jerseys because we had no uniforms of our own. Today's women's hockey teams play much better than we ever did. But we had fun, and I learned to skate backward.

    I've just learned how to play something called the 12-bar blues on the ukulele. It reminds me of the mathematical patterns Isaac Newton discovered about the universe. Once you get it, you can play bazillions of tunes. It's kind of like . . . magic.

    The real world is an amazing place.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 11, 2013
    Believing her subject “deserves to be remembered as more than a case study,” Losure (The Fairy Ring: Or How Elsie and Frances Fool the World) brings life to the true story of a boy discovered living wild in southern France near the end of the French Revolution. The Wild Boy of Aveyron is captured and escapes several times, eventually ending up at the Institute for Deaf-Mutes in Paris; most of the book’s 18 chapters recount his childhood friendship with and intense tutoring by a doctor there. The narrative, woven around quotations from the writings of those who studied the boy, relies on Losure’s speculative style to fill in gaps, which she does without overreaching. While the pace is unhurried, a fascinating story (along with large margins and wide spacing) makes this a quick read that becomes more intriguing as it unfolds. An author’s note considers the possibility that the boy, later named Victor, may have been autistic and points out how techniques employed to teach him were successfully used with children previously considered unreachable. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10–up. Author’s agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Mar.) ■

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2013

    Gr 4-6-Who was the boy found naked in the forest by French villagers in the late 1700s? How had he gotten the scars that lined his body? How old was he? While he appeared to be about 10 years old, he could not tell his own story, because he could not talk. In understated, atmospheric prose, Losure carefully relates the recorded observations of the "men of science" who examined and/or educated the wild boy, finding the evocative details that hinted at his inner life while painting a vivid picture of the misty forests and hilltops the boy would have called home. Smudgy, gestural charcoal drawings accompany the text in this beautifully produced book, depicting the boy's struggles as his (usually) well-meaning captors attempted to domesticate him. Losure is careful not to make any 21st-century conclusions about the boy's condition. While she offers speculation about his early life and how he ended up alone in the woods, she brings up contemporary diagnoses such as Asperger's syndrome only in an author's note. Abundant source notes and a strong bibliography make this lyrical, readable book a wonderful nonfiction choice.-Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2013
    The well-documented case of a feral child who didn't speak, ran on all fours, and was captured in post-Revolution France and studied by a succession of Enlightenment-influenced thinkers gets an interesting, well-informed retelling, but unlike his inquisitors, the boy never comes into focus. Two who studied him left detailed accounts of their observations: a teacher at a boys' school, Pierre-Joseph Bonnaterre, and later, a doctor at a Paris school for deaf-mute children, Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, who undertook his education and gave him his name: Victor. Itard's intelligent, compassionate housekeeper opened her home to him. Though Victor never learned to speak, Itard's mostly humane, child-centered teaching profoundly influenced later educators. Inconsistencies in Losure's take abound. Scenery and buildings merit detailed description, but historical and cultural context is lacking--the French Revolution isn't mentioned. Readers are invited to judge "cold-eyed" scientists, especially Bonnaterre ("to him, the boy was only a specimen") by contemporary standards. Itard's harshest actions (knowing Victor's fear of heights, Itard dangled him out a high window) escape editorializing. Text, syntax and vocabulary envision quite young readers, yet the eight pages of scholarly footnotes and academic bibliography are strictly for adults. Resources for children or teachers aren't provided. Victor is known only through those who observed and studied him. Losure's speculations on what he might have felt have a distancing effect and do not belong in a work of nonfiction. An interesting account, but Victor remains as inscrutable as ever. (author's note) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2013
    Grades 4-7 Losure follows up The Fairy Ring (the Booklist 2012 Top of the ListYouth Nonfiction winner) with another novelistic true story with obvious appeal to young readers. In the mountains of southern France, a filthy, naked young boy lived like an animal in the woods. Twice he was captured, but it wasn't until 1800 that the roughly 12-year-old child was caught and sent to an orphanage, where a grim, narrow-nosed professor tried to determine if he belonged to an entirely different species called Homo ferus. Thankfully, this unsympathetic relationship soon gave way to a Paris tutelage under the much kinder Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard at an institute for deaf-mutes. Part Tarzan, part Elephant Man, and part Helen Keller, this is a tale of finding humanity inside of savagery, for though the wild boy never learned to speak and was forever drawn to the woods, there is no doubt he felt emotion deeply. Losure smoothly navigates a story that, due to few records, is incomplete, clearly denoting speculation without ever losing narrative flow. Ering's illustrations were unavailable for review.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

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The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron
Mary Losure
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