Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wolf Girls

When I met the Wolf Girls, is a curious picture book ( in a good way) by Deborah Noyes and illustrated by August Hall. There is a certain amount of intrigue and sadness in Wolf Girls which was based on a true life event from 1920 in India. Two girls, 18-month-old Amala and eight-year-old Kamala, were found living with wolves and brought to an orphanage. The youngest died not long after she was taken from the wild but the oldest lived until she was seventeen. She eventually learned to walk upright and speak a few words, but still felt more comfortable with the orphanage dogs then with the other children. Don't you find this fascinating? There is a database at that documents these incidents. It's horrific and yet the these abandoned or runaway children were taken in and sustained by wild animals! So The Jungle Book was not pure fantasy? Hmmmm...

The illustrations were painted in acrylics by August Hall who has worked for Pixar Animation, Dreamworks and Industrial Light and Magic. His characters have a comic-book-like quality which helps keep this otherwise sad story light. Bulu is the seven-year-old orphan girl who recounts the story. "Missus scrubbed them hard and clipped away clumps of hair. All day the wolf girls slept, curled together, or sat with their backs to us, though we pleaded. They ate licking the plate like dogs and tore at their clothing. Pacing all night, they plagued our dreams. They never spoke or smiled." She describes the monsoon season and blames the wolf girls for bringing the rains. Then Amala is sick and dies. Kamala will not eat and sniffs around Amala's pillow. Bulu whispers to her while she sleeps, "You'll forget... we all do." In the end we're left to wonder whether the girls should have been taken from their adoptive wolf family. I read this book a couple of times to my four-year-old and although she liked the character drawings, I think she'll really find it interesting when she's eight. There is an actual photo of Amala and Kamala at the end. Now doesn't that spark your curiosity?

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