Ballard Middle School students were treated to a speaker who had traveled in the shoes of a wild boy.
Author Mary Losure spoke to the students Thursday, Sept. 26, about her book, “Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron.” It tells the story of a 12-year-old boy who was found in the wild in Lacaune, France, and captured in 1798. He soon escaped and was captured two years later in the village of Saint-Sernin, where he was studied by scientists. Later on, he was taken in by a foster mother and studied by Dr. Itard, who would become his teacher and friend.
Losure told the students how she was able to pull the wild boy’s story out of history through research and visiting the places where the wild boy once roamed.
“It’s like being a detective. You start with what you know and work to find what you don’t know,” Losure said.
She and her husband went backpacking through the forested area of France, taking pictures and trying to determine what life had been like for the young boy, who would later be named Victor. She said many of the buildings were still standing in the villages near where the wild boy once hid.
While in France, Losure visited the orphanage where the wild boy stayed after he was captured. She was able to look through an old record book that kept track of each individual who stayed at the orphanage. In it was an account of the wild boy, who was noted as being deaf and mute.
Looking for eyewitness accounts, such as the old record book, is important when pulling a story out of history, Losure said, because of the accuracy such accounts hold. She also used information from a collection of scientific reports about the boy that were found in a book written by Itard.
While the book reads like a novel, Losure said she didn’t make anything up about the wild boy.
“I went where he went, I saw what he saw,” Losure said.
Prior to writing “Wild Boy,” Losure wrote her first book, “The Fairy Ring, Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World,” also based on a real-life story. It is about two young girls who thought fairies really did exist. When community members made fun of them for believing in fairies, they took pictures of cut-out fairies in order to make people think the fairies truly were real.
In order to better understand the girls, Losure made a trip to Yorkshire, England, the place where the girls once lived. She visited the stream where the pictures of the cut-out fairies were taken, and where one of the girls believed to have seen the fairies.
Losure is in the process of writing a third novel, “Isaac the Alchemist,” about a young boy who becomes a magician-scientist.