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The Wild Kid

The Wild Kid

4.7 22
by Harry Mazer

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Sammy and Kevin depend on each other for friendship and survival. Yet, Sammy longs to go home, and he's got a plan that just might save him and his friend. Mazer explores the delicate bond between two misfit kids living on their own.


Sammy and Kevin depend on each other for friendship and survival. Yet, Sammy longs to go home, and he's got a plan that just might save him and his friend. Mazer explores the delicate bond between two misfit kids living on their own.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers may at first be misled, thinking that the wild kid of the title is the worried-looking boy clinging with long slender fingers to a cliff in the eye-catching jacket painting. However, once they reach the pictured climactic scene, readers may be surprised that the lad portrayed is the story's very tame protagonist, Sammy, a pudgy, maladroit 12-year-old with Down syndrome. With his simply worded third- person narrative, Mazer (Snowbound; The Dog in the Freezer) captures the thoughts and emotions--and occasionally profound insights--of someone whom most people, including the boy's own family, discount for being "retarded." Made to stay outside because he insulted his mother's boyfriend, "uncle" Carl, Sammy takes off on his bike rather than apologize. But the bike gets stolen, and in chasing down the thief, Sammy winds up lost in a nearby state forest where he literally stumbles across the eponymous Kevin. A reform-school escapee, Kevin at first keeps Sammy prisoner in his rude shelter, but then befriends him and teaches him to overcome some of his supposed disabilities. Sammy's innocent, doglike faith in suspicious, cynical Kevin is touching, yet not enough to sustain what is more like a novella than a full-length novel. And with the tensions that caused Sammy to leave home remaining unresolved upon his return, the ending falls flat. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Cheryl Peterson
Sammy is almost thirteen and some say he's slow, others say he's special, but Sammy thinks he knows a lot of things. When his mother and stepfather lock him out of the house for saying a bad word, he takes off on his bike to the store. His bike is stolen while he is browsing, and he attempts to chase the thief by hitching a ride on a truck. He ends up lost in the woods where he meets a kid named Kevin. Kevin is a runaway and is afraid to let Sammy go home because he will reveal his hiding place. An unusual friendship develops, and the boys depend on each other for survival. Sammy ultimately proves that he does indeed know a lot of things. An inspiring and often humorous story told from Sammy's viewpoint.
VOYA - Sarah K. Herz
This is a wonderful survival story about two unusual characters: twelve-year-old Sammy, who has Down's syndrome, and Kevin, a runaway teenager hiding from society. When Sammy and Kevin's paths accidentally cross in a forest preserve, they learn to trust and help one another. Sammy's conversation with his mother and sister reveals his stubborn innocence in dealing with situations. When his mother tries to persuade him to apologize to her friend for saying "crap to it," Sammy curses again, is locked out, announces "I'm never coming back," and rides away on his bike. Sammy becomes lost in a forest preserve where he meets up with Kevin, an alienated teenager whom Sammy calls the "wild kid." At first, Kevin is mean to Sammy but eventually he trusts Sammy and the two become friends. When Sammy comes up with a plan to have Kevin move in with his own family, he leaves the hideout to return home but gets trapped on the rock cliffs. Kevin cannot rescue Sammy himself, so he calls the police. Sammy is rescued and talks about Kevin, but the authorities are skeptical of Sammy's story about the wild boy who took care of him, and no one believes that a Down's syndrome child with no wilderness skills could survive on his own for two weeks. But his experience with Kevin has forged a new Sammy, as he tells his mother, "Don't baby me anymore. I can do things." Middle school readers will enjoy the fast-paced plot and the well-developed characters who learn to trust one another. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8).
Sammy, the Down's Syndrome protagonist, has a day that goes from bad to worse. First, he gets in trouble with his mom for saying rude words to his "Uncle Car." Next, when he goes to the store to get a candy bar his bike is stolen. Chasing after his bike, Sammy becomes lost in the forest. He meets a wild kid, Kevin, who refuses to let him leave lest it get Kevin discovered and in trouble. All is not too bad—Kevin teaches Sammy how to tie his shoes, and even takes him along on trips. Soon, however, Sammy is eager to get back to his family, school, and home, yet he cannot seem to figure out how to return. This book was selected for inclusion in the School Library Journal Best Books of 1998, as well as earning a place on the Horn Book Fanfare List. Reluctant readers will enjoy this survival tale, which is really about the evolution of the character of Sammy, and how he matures over the course of the story. Strongly recommended purchase for school and public library collections, especially for fans of adventure stories, and reluctant readers. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 1998, Simon & Schuster, Aladdin Adventure, 103p, 20cm, 97-42578, $4.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Tricia Finch; Youth Scvs. Mgr., North Port P.L., North Port, FL, September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Sammy's troubles keep escalating. First he is punished for being fresh to Mom's friend Carl. Then he goes off to the store by himself, which is forbidden, and his new bike is stolen when he fails to chain it. Chasing the thief, Sammy becomes lost. Mazer brings the boy to life without revealing to readers anything that Sammy wouldn't tell, until Kevin, a wild kid who holds him captive in the woods, asks him if he's dumb. He says, "No, I'm Down's. I'm young for my age. I'm a special person." Vividly and with a fast pace, Mazer describes Sammy's world, his awful predicament, his magnificent spirit, and his incredible determination. The wild kid gradually changes from a vicious monster into a friend. As Sammy says, "Just because you're not always good doesn't make you bad." During their time together, Kevin and Sammy learn some important lessons from one another. The sentences are short, the descriptions simple, and the interaction between the characters complex and intriguing. Readers need to piece together Kevin's history and decipher the sometimes conflicting statements that Sammy makes. Phrases often used with persons with disabilities echo throughout the narrative. Yet this is not a "special" book for "special" readers, as sometimes books are termed that are too difficult or too limited in appeal. It's for anyone looking for an adventure, a survival story on many levels, or a compelling read.-Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA
Kitty Flynn
With remarkable restraint and without sentimentality, Mazer tells the story of Sammy, a twelve-year-old boy with Down syndrome held captive in the woods by Kevin, a delinquent teenage runaway. Convincingly told from Sammy's guileless point of view, the spare and simple narrative is at turns harrowing and touching. Short, suspenseful chapters move the action along; intriguing characterization lends depth to the drama. When Sammy, who's far from his home and lost, stumbles upon Kevin's forest lair, Kevin ties Sammy up, afraid that if he lets Sammy go, Kevin will be tracked down and sent back to reform school. Sammy never wavers in his desire to go home, but his optimistic outlook and good humor eventually win Kevin's confidence, and an unlikely friendship develops between the two boys. Angry, hostile Kevin comes to depend on Sammy's companionship; overprotected Sammy, who has been punished-and sometimes hit-for not behaving like "an almost-grown-up person," gets a taste of independence and freedom while surviving in the woods, as Kevin insists that he learn to do things on his own. Mazer manages to portray both the victim and the victimizer as sympathetic, complex characters, something Sammy knows is true all along: "Just because you're not always good doesn't make you bad." The realistic ending, which finds Sammy safe and at home, leaves Kevin's story unresolved and a deep ache in Sammy's heart. "People said Sammy was slow, but he knew things." Sammy, who knows about forgiveness and hope, is worth taking time to listen to.
--Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
When 12-year-old Sammy, who has Down's syndrome, gets lost (while he chases after his stolen bike and its rider, he climbs on the back of a truck and winds up miles from home), he encounters Kevin, a runaway who has been living on his own in the forest. Afraid that Sammy will give him away to the authorities, Kevin won't let him return home, and eventually the two boys form a tenuous friendship. Although Kevin grows protective, Sammy never loses his determination to leave; when he makes his break, he ends up in danger, and Kevin risks his freedom to save him. In the poignant ending, Sammy, safe at home, holds on to the hope that one day Kevin will come to live with him; no one else believes Kevin exists. Mazer (Twelve Shots, 1997, etc.), keeping the perspective strictly Sammy's, structures the story so that the boys are two sides of the same coin: one dependent and sweet-natured, but with a stubborn streak, and the other tough, self-reliant, and kind only at the core. Realistically, and with small, honest gestures, each helps the other to grow; Sammy becomes more independent, while Kevin becomes more compassionate. An exciting, unusual survival story, very well told. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

San Val, Incorporated
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Meet the Author

Harry Mazer is the author of many books for young readers, including Please, Somebody Tell Me Who I Am; My Brother Abe; the Boy at War trilogy; The Wild Kid; The Dog in the Freezer; The Island Keeper; and Snow Bound. His books have won numerous honors, including a Horn Book honor and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults citation. Along with his wife, Norma Fox Mazer, Harry received an ALAN award in 2003 for outstanding contribution to adolescent literature. He lives in Montpelier, Vermont.

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The Wild Kid 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy who gets lost because he is mad at his mom. He ends up in the woods,and is very scared. Do you think that he will meet a human being, or do you think that he will die of hunger?