“Absorbing non-fiction…a beautiful, evocative story about a real-life ‘Wild Boy’ who lived in a forest in 18th century France.” The Wall Street Journal
**A Junior Library Guild Selection**
“A fascinating story… a quick read that becomes more intriguing as it unfolds.” Publishers Weekly
“An interesting, well-informed retelling.” Kirkus Reviews
Losure follows up The Fairy Ring (the Booklist 2012 Top of the List—Youth 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. Daniel Kraus
Five Stars from Ritchie’s Picks See full review at:
*****WILD BOY is listed as a title of “OutstandingMerit” in the 2014 edition of Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults, selected by the Children’s Book Committee.******
From The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
The feral boy found in rural France in the late eighteenth century was a phenomenon in his day and remains a mysterious and compelling figure in ours, and Losure (author of The Fairy Ring, BCCB 4/12) provides an evocative treatment of his life. With her fluid storytelling, she traces the boy from his early sightings and provincial capture, through his cold early treatment by scientists, to his eventual placement under the care of Dr. Itard at the Parisian Institute for Deaf-Mutes. There Victor, as Dr. Itard named him, really settles, bonding with Dr. Itard, who’s determined to teach him language, and with his kindly caretaker, Madame Guérin. The book draws a vivid picture of Victor’s life, drawing on quotes from Dr. Itard and his contemporaries, but it also overtly denotes speculation (“Maybe . . . the wild boy watched her, trying to remember his own mother, his own home”) in a quiet reminder that much of the boy’s story and perspective is conjecture. Losure is an involved chronicler, clearly hostile toward the professor observing Victor at his first orphanage home and sympathetic toward the boy who was unable to please society and always longing for the forest; she’s also comfortable with leaving the story as unshaped as Victor’s life ultimately was, with no specific triumphs or conclusions. It’s a fascinating look at an unusual historical figure, a stylish yet accessible read that’s a step up from Gerstein’s The Wild Boy (BCCB 12/98). In a closing note, Losure describes the theories about Victor’s condition (autism being the most prominent) and some of the legacies of his educational attempts; endnotes, a bibliography, and an index are also appended.
Photo Credit: Don Losure