Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Savage by David Almond. Candlewick (2008), Hardcover, 80 pages

When Blue's father dies, everything changes for him--the loss is enormous, huge, devastating, and raw. At the same time blue is also forced to deal with a bully---a really meanspirited and viscous boy--who torments him in a really disturbing way. As the child becomes depressed and more introverted, his teacher suggests he write a story to help him deal with his feelings--Blue writes from the pain and creates a savage character (this is the graphic) who may be real or not, who may be Blue, or not....The story Blue creates is intensely personal--for a long time he will not share it with even his mother--and the Savage becomes an embodiment of Blue's feelings--the pain, the frustration, the rage--and desire for revenge--and in the end, becomes the catalyst for Blue to recover..with a little magical realism help!
I really like The Savage-- i found it beautifully written-- slim in volume but deep in emotion. And like all works for young people that deal with the issue of bullying in an authentic manner, the adults in the story--even loving, caring ones, fail to deal with the issue in any direct or effective way---leaving the victim feeling truly on his own. This is a British import filled with british english expressions that i think it is good to expose our kids to. The graphic within a novel format works very well, allowing us to see both sides of Blue--the boy and his psyche---and his healing. Magic and emotion, pain, bullying, fear, shame , anger, revenge, longing--the book has lots to think and talk and teach about. Highly recommended.

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