Review Blog

Sep 27 2013

Wild boy by Rob Lloyd Jones

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Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781406341386.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Historical. Crime. Confined to an workhouse but bullied and beaten because of his appearance, the child called Wild Boy is eventually taken away by a Showman, a circus owner who has a Freak Show as part of his entertainment. It is London, 1841, and a boy covered in hair, wild and snarling at all who come near him is just what Finch needs to draw the crowds.
But one night, Wild Boy witnesses a murder, and crying for help he runs into the circus tent, a place forbidden to the likes of him, covered in blood and is instantly accused of the murder. Locked in a cage, he is helped to get out by the ringmaster's daughter, Clarissa, a girl who, like him, is beaten, and together they make their escape. Found by Sir Oswald, another in the freak show because of his amputated legs, Wild Boy is nursed back to health, and with Clarissa, who he still cannot trust, they decide that they must find the killer, or be hanged for the murder.
An exciting crime story for middle school readers, the setting is creepily authentic, from the workhouse to the freak show in the circus to the summary justice about to be handed out to the boy by the mob, convinced that he is the murderer.
A page turner that will have wide appeal, having a male and female as the main characters, the harsh background of the lives of these children is ever present, and the violence with which they must deal is at times overwhelming. A second in the series is to come, Wild boy and the black terror.
Fran Knight

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