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Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron
     

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron

5.0 4
by Mary Losure, Timothy Basil Ering (Illustrator)
 

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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,

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
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. ... Abundant source notes and a strong bibliography make this lyrical, readable book a wonderful nonfiction choice.
—School Library Journal
VOYA - Mandy R. Simon
In the French countryside in 1797, a young boy seemingly raised alone in the wild is captured by curious hunters. Called a wild boy and a savage by those who held him in captivity, he was clearly not accustomed to civilized society. He escaped most attempts to contain him, but each time he encountered the townspeople he became less fearful of them. Eventually he was taken to the Institute for Deaf-Mutes to be studied more thoroughly by scientists who tried to discover whether he could be educated, acquire language, and share his story. Later named Victor by his observers, the wild boy eventually succumbed to the tradition around him and fit in, though he never spoke fluently (aside from the occasional request or demand for his primal needs). Losure's first nonfiction book turns a mysterious scientific case about a feral boy into an enjoyable story about the human spirit. Through well-documented notes from other sources, Losure eloquently creates a fascinating story that reads more like fiction than nonfiction. Losure deduces what Victor must have felt and thought based on information documented by caregivers, teachers, and other individuals. Though many of the details of Victor's life remain a mystery, Losure's educated guesses and well-written assumptions will carry even reluctant nonfiction readers through to the end. This book is recommended for historical fiction and nonfiction readers in middle and high school. Reviewer: Mandy R. Simon
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
In 1800 in Napoleonic France, a young boy was captured and eventually transported from the village of Aveyron to Paris. This boy, who would be named Victor, was, to say the least, unusual. Over a period of years he had been captured several times only to escape back to a life that appeared to be feral in nature. Once taken to Paris, the boy, who was estimated to be twelve years of age, was christened the "Savage of Aveyron" or the "Wild Boy." In an effort to discover as much as possible about Victor, the boy was brought to an institute for the education of children who were deaf and/or mute. There, under the tutelage of Dr. Jean Itard, Victor developed some rudimentary language as well as a grudging fondness for the companionship of his fellow human beings. Although Victor never demonstrated a capacity for in depth expressive language he did form attachments and lived until he was forty. It is the story of the life and education of the "Savage of Aveyron" that Mary Losure turns her talents and sensitivity toward in this fine book. Written with both careful attention to detail and great empathy, Wild Boy is a tribute to the capacity human beings have to show compassion. Additionally, the heartfelt sketches of Timothy Basil Ering resonate and add depth to the already well-crafted narrative. Victor's story will educate readers not only about this fascinating young boy's life but also the needs of people with disabilities in our own society. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763656690
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
03/26/2013
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
187,408
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 6.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
1000L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Losure, author of The Fairy Ring, has worked as a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio and a contributor to National Public Radio. She lives with her husband in Minnesota.

Timothy Basil Ering is the illustrator of many award-winning books, including Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery Medal–winning The Tale of Despereaux. He lives in Massachusetts.

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Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
Wild Boy tells "the real life of the savage of Aveyron," a feral child found living in the woods in France around 1800. Upon his discovery, he was examined, studied, and attempts were made to civilize him. He was given the name Victor and thankfully, he also found someone who cared for him as if he were family. I love the narrative non-fiction style of this book, the way it reads like fiction. Details about Victor's life are always appropriate for the intended age group (10 and up), and it's easy to connect with how he must have felt along the way. Readers see examples of scientific thought and methods in the early 19th century, and come to understand why Dr. Itard's methods were kinder and more humane than others. The illustrations are charcoal drawings, not overly detailed. They don't try to show too much; they give just enough detail to inspire the imagination to fill in the rest. A true "living" history book, Wild Boy includes a map on inside cover showing his journey, a quote from a primary source at the start of each chapter, thorough source notes and a bibliography for further reading, and a fascinating bit of extra information in the one-page author's note.
book4children More than 1 year ago
I was so excited when I got this book in the mail. This is a work of non-fiction intended for children. It is the story of a real life wild boy. I had no idea that wild children were a real thing. I figured that they only existed in fiction such as The Jungle Book. As it turns out, there have been several recorded throughout history. This is the story of one of those children. It is SO interesting! I loved learning about the boy and his crazy life. One of the things that I loved the most was learning about was the thought process of the day. The boy was subjected to various assumptions, experiments, and judgements in the name of "science" or "lessons".
Its_Time_Mamaw More than 1 year ago
A true story about a wild boy found in southern France, 1798.   There was a sighting of a wild naked boy in the mountain forest, he appeared to be digging in the leaves.   He was not easy to track, that is until 1798 he was finally tracked down and captured in the mountains and was forcibly brought into town where many gawked at him as if he was a wild beast.  From that day on he was know as the Savage of Aveyron.  He managed to escaped a few times but was always brought back to Paris where he was being studied as a human specimen.  He faced many changes in his life some good and some bad.  He was never forgotten. The author writes of the trials and tribulations in the life of this young boy as facts had been written and documented of the research and later schooling of his life in captivity.  The story shows how sad his life must have been in comparison to other children of his time.  It is very well put together on a level for children to read of this historical representation of the Savage of Aveyron, yet adults will enjoy it as well.   I highly recommend this book. Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book from Candlewick Press for review.  I was in no way compensated for this review.  This review is my honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story of Victor has always been my favorite of all feral children. Sad, heartbreaking yet fascinating this book is highly recommended for any student of this bizarre and cruel phenomenon!!!