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The Savage

by David Almond
Illustrated by Dave McKean

      Blue is a child suffering grief over his father's death.  His Counselor advises him to try writing down his feelings to help deal with the pain, but that really doesn't work very well.  Then Blue gets the idea to write about a wild child, who lives in the woods, and on occasion kills and eats people.  His story tells about the savage child interacting with Blue and his sister, and how the Savage hates the boy, Hopper, who bullies Blue at school.

This is a strange combination of picture book and novel for older kids that is unsettling at best.  A young boy's fantasy, the story and the illustrations are both filled with raw emotions that border on frightening and reflect Blue's own experiences and feelings.

McKean's disturbing illustrations show a wild child who is bony and shirtless, armed with a knife.  Blue begins to believe that the Savage may be real, since he is sure there is evidence that the Savage visits him while he sleeps.  The idea that what you write becomes real is not a new one, and when the bully, Hopper, receives a beating in his bedroom during the night, Blue is sure that his fantasy has become reality.

Filled with fast action, suspense and characters who are realistic, this book would be a great conversation starter for family time, to explore grief, imaginations, and how to handle the bad parts of life. Don't we all have a bit of the Savage lurking somewhere just beneath the surface?

The Book

October 14, 2008
076363932X / 978-0763639327
Tweener Fiction
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The Reviewer

Beverly J. Rowe
Reviewed 2009
© 2009