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They were born worlds apart, the wolf from the Far North and the boy from Yellow Africa. Now all that separates them is a cage at the zoo. The wolf has lost much on his journey, including an eye and his beloved pack. But when he finally consents to trust the strange, still ...
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They were born worlds apart, the wolf from the Far North and the boy from Yellow Africa. Now all that separates them is a cage at the zoo. The wolf has lost much on his journey, including an eye and his beloved pack. But when he finally consents to trust the strange, still little boy who has been watching him - to meet his eye - their lives intersect with unforgettable results. Master storyteller Daniel Pennac weaves the events of two lives into a mythic tapestry that ultimately and magnificently reveals the fellowship of all creatures. Ten illustrations by Max Grafe enhance this fabulous translation from the French.
An Alaskan wolf and an African boy, meeting at a zoo in "The Other World," read in one another's eye the hardships each has faced, and their understanding helps to bring healing to them both.
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The boy standing in front of the wolf's cage doesn't move a muscle. The wolf paces backward and forward. He walks the length of the enclosure and back again without stopping.
He's starting to get on my nerves, the wolf thinks to himself. For the last two hours the boy has been standing in front of the wire fencing, as still as a frozen tree.
What does he want from me? the wolf wonders. The boy makes him feel curious. He's not worried (because wolves aren't afraid of anything), just curious. What does he want?
The other children jump and run about, shout and burst into tears, stick their tongues out at the wolf and hide their heads in their mothers' skirts. Then they make silly faces in front of the gorilla's cage, or roar at the lion as he whips the air with his tail. But this boy is different. He stands there silently, without moving a muscle. Only his eyes shift. They follow the wolf as he paces the length of his wire fencing.
What's wrong? Haven't you ever seen a wolf before?
The wolf sees the boy only every other time he passes him. That's because the wolf has only one eye. He lost the other one ten years ago in a fight against human beings, the day he was captured. So on his outward journey (if you can call it a journey) the wolf sees the zoo with all its cages, the children making silly faces, and standing in the middle of them all, the boy who doesn't move amuscle. On the return journey (if you can call it a journey) the wolf sees just the inside of his enclosure. It's an empty enclosure, because the she-wolf died last week. It's a sad enclosure with a solitary gray rock and a dead tree. When the wolf turns around, there's the boy again, breathing steadily, his white breath hanging in the cold air.
He'll give up before I do, thinks the wolf, and he keeps on walking. I'm more patient than he is, he adds. I'm the wolf.
* * *
But the next day the boy is there again. And the following day. And the day after that. Until the wolf can't help thinking about him again. Who is he? What does he want from me? Doesn't he have anything to do all day? Doesn't he have work to do? Or school to go to? Hasn't he got any friends? Or parents? Or relatives?
So many questions slow his pace; his legs feel heavy. He's not worn out yet, but he might be soon. Unbelievable! thinks the wolf.
At least the zoo will be closed tomorrow. Once a month there's a special day when the zookeepers check on the animals' health and repair their cages. No visitors are allowed.
That'll get him off my back.
Wrong again. The next day, just like all the other days, the boy is there. He seems to be more present than ever--all alone in front of the enclosure, all alone in an empty zoo.
Oh, no, groans the wolf. But that's the way it is.
The wolf is starting to feel worn out now. The boy's stare seems to weigh a ton. All right, thinks the wolf. You've asked for it. And suddenly he stops walking. He sits bolt upright opposite the boy. And he starts staring back. He doesn't look through him. It's a real stare, a FIXED stare.
So now they're opposite each other.
There's just the boy.
And the wolf with the blue fur.
So you want to stare at me? Fine. I'll stare at you too. And we'll soon see. . . .
But there's something bothering the wolf. A silly detail. He's only got one eye and the boy's got two. The wolf doesn't know which of the boy's eyes to stare into. He hesitates. His single eye jumps: right-left, left-right. The boy's eyes don't flinch. He doesn't flutter an eyelash. The wolf feels extremely uneasy. He won't turn his head away for the whole world. And there's no question of starting to pace again. His eye begins to lose control. Soon, across the scar of his dead eye, a tear appears. Not because he's sad, but out of a sense of helplessness and anger.
So the boy does something strange that calms the wolf and makes him feel more at ease. The boy closes an eye.
Now they're looking into each other's eye, in a zoo that's silent and empty, and they've got all the time in the world.
Excerpted from Eye of the Wolf
by Daniel Pennac
Copyright © 2003 by Daniel Pennac.
Excerpted by permission.
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