Friday, December 12, 2008

The Savage by David Almond; illustrated by Dave McKean

What happens when something so traumatic happens in your life that it begins to blur between reality and fantasy? Are you still a mild-mannered Blue or a savage? That is the premise of David Almond’s new book, and interestingly enough, he takes on this book while doing some unique blending of his own.

Blue has lived a pretty happy and decent life with his parents and little sister. The only exception is Hopper, who takes every advantage he can to belittle, spit on and cause Blue pain. The only person who helps Blue through this situation is his dad….but one day, unexpectedly, his father has a heart attack and there is only a huge hole in Blue’s life.

His teachers and his mother know that Blue will have to find a way to cope with this sudden and tragic loss, and the avenue he turns to is writing. He begins to create a character, a savage boy, that helps him deal with his loss, his anger, and his hatred and love for people through this alternate persona. And with the continuation of the savage boy’s story, Blue’s inner life of struggle begins to unfold.

David Almond, along with illustrator Dave McKean has created a book that looks into how a traumatic experience evolves from the pages of a young man’s journal into real life. They have taken this book to a new type of print – a fusion of a novel with that of a graphic novel, where chapters are entwined. This, in turn, also solidifies the story of Blue, between reality and fantasy. As Blue’s savage boy persona becomes more real, Blue’s real life becomes to evolve. Symbolism is one of the driving forces in this book and one that older readers will catch onto. Although a short book, it may make some readers go back to the graphic pages to understand just exactly how Blue copes with
trauma, both past and present.

Watch for this type of format in books….Almond’s is only the beginning. Perfect match with Venomous by Christopher Krovatin, another book that blends graphic and traditional prose with anger issues of young adults.


Richard Hanks said...

Thanks for this, very interesting.

The Savage was featured on the BBC's picture book series (highly recommended:, where it was presented as the 'future' of illustrated children's litrature.

Patti said...

So what age would you say it is for?

naomibates said...

junior high
reluctant reader high school