Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WILD BOY ~ The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron ~ by MARY LOSURE, illustrated by TIMOTHY BASIL ERING ~ Giveaway

About Book. 

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.” 

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron(Candlewick, March 26, 2013),  illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering, the artist for Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery-Medal-winningThe Tale of Despereaux.

GIVEAWAY ~ U.S. residents only
Provided by Candlewick Press
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This often-seen image of the wild boy was published in a report written by a priest and naturalist, P. J. Bonnaterre, who studied the boy after he was brought to the city of Rodez, in the department of Aveyron, in
1800. The drawing portrays him as a scientific specimen, the way Bonnaterre (who dismissed him as little more than an ”imbecile”) viewed him.

But Dr. Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, the man who later became the wild boy’s teacher and worked with him for five years, believed the boy he named Victor was an ”extraordinary being.”

To research Wild Boy, I went to France with the help of a Travel and Study Grant from the Jerome
Foundation. I was happy to find that many of scenes of the wild boy’s life are remarkably unchanged today.

Above is the square in the village of Lacaune where the wild boy was exhibited after his first capture in 1798.  He escaped and, after another year living wild in the forest, was captured again. Brought back to the same
village, he escaped  again, this time crossing a range of mountains. In the year 1800, he was captured in this valley (right), near the village of Saint- Sernin.  He appeared at that time to be about 12 years old.

A village official in Saint- Sernin took him home, but he bolted out the door. He was chased through these narrow streets (left), recaptured, and sent to an orphanage. It was then that the scientist P.J. Bonnaterre got word of the discovery of a real, wild human being. Bonnaterre had the boy sent to Rodez so that he, Bonnaterre, could study him there.

This is the former Central School in Rodez, where the wild boy lived until scientists in Paris demanded their chance to study him.

To the left is the Paris school for the deaf where the wild boy found a new home, a foster mother, and his
teacher and friend Dr. Itard.

Dr. Itard’s scientific reports about the wild boy’s life in Paris were later published as a book, The Wild Boy of Aveyron.  My book draws on Itard’s writings as well as a wealth of other eyewitness reports, letters, and documents.

When people in France asked me what I was doing in their archives, I would tell them (in my atrocious French), “I’m writing a book about the wild boy.”

“Ah,” they’d say, looking pleased. “L’enfant sauvage!”

photos by Don Losure

About Author
Mary Losure began her wandering career path backpacking in the mountains of California and Oregon and kayaking in the Prince William Sound in Alaska. She’s worked as a field botanist’s assistant, family farmer, and staff reporter forMinnesota Public Radio. A long-time contributor to National Public Radio, she co-founded the independent production company Round Earth Media.

Author's Website:
She is the author of  a narrative non-fiction for children:
The Fairy Ring, Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World (Candlewick Press, 2012)
** I was given permission from the author to use material from her website for this post.

My Thoughts

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.

I rated this book a 5 out of 5.

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.

If you found this review helpful vote yes or no here.


  1. What a fascinating story! Thanks for sharing.

    hg195 at yahoo dot com

  2. I keep seeing this book around the blogosphere. Amazon seems very insistent that I need it as well.


    1. Congratulations Dena! You have won a copy of WILD BOY!


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