Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Savage by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean

The Savage is a curious little book. It’s all of 79 pages and illustrated by the fabulous Dave McKean (who is often associated w/ Neil Gaiman's work). It’s not a graphic novel.

Young teen Blue Baker's dad died and the counselor at school told him to write his feelings down. Writing his feelings "just seemed stupid" but write he did. Only the words that poured out of him were "The Savage", a story about a wild kid living in the woods. "The Savage" parts of this novel are written in Blue's sloppy kid script complete with misspellings and lack of punctuation. Blue tells us in his narration that he was younger then. The exciting part, Blue tells us, is that the savage really came to life.

Blue's dad was a great dad. They talked about all kinds of things, spent time together, and his dad even went to confront the neighborhood bully to ask him to lay off. Hopper gleefully torments Blue with that encounter.

"That dad of yours was at our door last week. Do you know that? He said you'd
been whigning on about me. So you know what I said to him?" He paused while he
spat and took a drag on his cigarette. "I said, 'P*** off and die, Fatso.' And
would you believe it? It's worked!"


"From that day on, I hated him with all my heart."

After this, Blue writes Hopper into his story. Most readers will know the path this story takes. It's not a new story. David Almond's writing is concise and quick. He tells just enough. Dave McKean's illustrations really make the book. His green, blue and black ink illustrations are wild and thoughtful. He captures the savage's beautifully haunting emotions and rough movements.

Candlewick Press, 2008

also reviewed at YA Books and More, A Fuse #8

1 comment:

Patti said...

I was really surprised when it came in how slim it was. I don't know why, but it shocked me!