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The Wild Boy: Based on the True Story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron
     

The Wild Boy: Based on the True Story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron

by Gerstein, Mordicai Gerstein (Illustrator)
 

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Once there was a boy who lived in the mountain forests of southern France. He lived completely alone, without mother, father, or friends. He didn't know what a mother or father was. He was naked. He didn't know what clothes were. He didn't know he was a boy, or even a person. He didn't know what people were. He was completely wild.

In simple prose and an

Overview

Once there was a boy who lived in the mountain forests of southern France. He lived completely alone, without mother, father, or friends. He didn't know what a mother or father was. He was naked. He didn't know what clothes were. He didn't know he was a boy, or even a person. He didn't know what people were. He was completely wild.

In simple prose and an abundance of sharp, vivid illustrations that capture the energy of youth, this extraordinarily touching picture book brings to life the child who was Victor in a way that will delight and engage young readers.

Editorial Reviews

Kathryn Harrison
. . .[A] fairy tale of salvation. . . .It's a familiar formula, in which a . . .freak. . .is recognized by an enlightened benefactor as inherently worthy.
New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nature and civilization collide in this thought-provoking picture book based on the story of a boy discovered living alone in the mountain forests of southern France in 1800. Hunters are first to see the boy scampering in the woods, where he had survived on plants and berries and the icy mountain-stream water. Captured, the boy is later brought to Paris' Institute for Deaf-Mutes, where experts test and examine him, and finally determine that he is "hopeless." Happily, one doctor thinks otherwise and welcomes the boy into his home, teaching him skills and caring for him. "He will never learn to speak," the doctor eventually realizes. "He was alone in the silent woods too long. But he has learned to have feelings, and they can be hurt." Gerstein's (The Story of May) detailed and informative text clearly reflects a wealth of research; he is simultaneously publishing a novel, Victor, on the same subject (reviewed below). The smoothly paced writing sustains a mysterious and sometimes melancholy tone, in keeping with its subject matter. In loose-lined panel illustrations, Gerstein conveys an arc of emotions. He depicts the unrestrained joy of the boy cavorting nude in his natural surroundings, while scenes of capture are suitably darkened. Ultimately, the boy's home life in Paris appears warm and bright. Young readers will be fascinated, perhaps even spurred to further investigate the facts behind the story.
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
Based on a true story, this picture book version of the young adult novel, Victor, explains what happens when a mysterious, "wild boy" is captured in the woods near a French village shortly after the Revolution. At first gawked at and often mistreated by the villagers, the boy was eventually sent to Paris, where he was cared for, taught, experimented on, and named "Victor," by a young, dedicated doctor, Jean-Marc Itard. The sketchy, colored illustrations do a good job of capturing Victor's exuberance as he runs naked through autumn leaves and snow, and both the humor and poignancy of his interactions with society and individuals of that time. An author's note is included.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In 1800, a preadolescent boy was found wandering in the forests near Saint-Sernin in southern France. This "feral" or wild child, who had somehow survived without human contact for years, became the object of intense study by French experts who labeled him as hopelessly retarded when they failed to communicate with him. However, a young doctor named Jean-Marc Itard was intrigued by the boy and took him into his home where they worked together for several years. Itard's careful observations and sensitive teaching allowed Victor, as he was named, to learn something of civilized life, although he never learned to talk. Gerstein has built The Wild Boy around these details and imagined Victor's life with great sympathy. The illustrations, executed in textured paint strokes and rough, crosshatched lines, evoke the untamed freedom of a child who lives purely for himself. The page design heightens the emotional tension and moves the story forward. Bright colors convey Victor's joyous connection to his natural world while a darker palette shows him in captivity. Softer hues portray the warmth of the Itard household but the overall blue tones evoke Victor's lost innocence and the human potential that was never realized. Children will be fascinated with this true-life survival tale and intrigued by the human need for socialization and interaction.-Barbara Kiefer, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
Kirkus Reviews
The wild child of Aveyron, captured in southern France at the very end of the 18th century, has been the subject of a film by Francois Truffaut, and numerous books, including a novel by Gerstein. This picture-book treatment, with expressive and immediate illustrations, stays close to the historical record and is poignant, if antiseptic. When found, the boy is naked, mute, and likely terrified, treated as a freak and then cast aside by the experts, a cruelty that even the youngest audience will grasp. Enter the doctor, Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, who takes the boy, now Victor, as his protege. While it is clear that the boy never truly adjusts, it is even more appealing that his essential wildness remains intact—a fact that will rivet children.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374384319
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
09/01/1998
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
7.55(w) x 11.08(h) x 0.44(d)
Lexile:
530L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Mordicai Gerstein worked for many years as a designer and director of animated films before turning to writing and illustrating picture books. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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