Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Wild Boy: the Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron by Mary Losure
Wild Boy: the Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron by Mary Losure, Illus. by Timothy Basil Ering. 2013.
Losure's story of the wild boy begins in southern France in 1797. A lone 9 year old child lives in the forest, summer and winter, taking care of himself. He goes naked, has no tools and avoids the nearby village. A few times he is caught by people and brought into town, but he always escapes until 1800, when he is admitted to an orphanage by a village official. He is unable to speak, but is not "deaf and dumb" as is at first thought. The boy draws the attention of priest, professor and scientist Pierre-Joseph Bonnaterre, who has a mind to study him. So begins years of attention from people who want to examine and educate him, but not necessarily love him.
In her touching narrative non-fiction, Losure shows Victor the Savage of Aveyron as a person of strong emotions, who in spite of his unusual life, is primarily a joyful soul who wants to please the people that take care of him. Readers will feel compassion for the child who was left alone in the woods for unknown reasons and who only knew the outdoor life, but who suddenly lost his familiar world and couldn't understand why. Although Victor's story seems a melancholy one, Losure notes that the methods used to teach him were later helpful for schooling thousands of children who had previously been considered unreachable, as well as influencing Maria Montessori in her famous education methods.