cover image Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron

Mary Losure, illus. by Timothy Basil Ering. Candlewick, $16.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5669-0

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.) ■