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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Bruno, King of the Wild
by Michel-Aime Baudouy
Age Range: 9-11
Set in the French Pyrenees on the border with Spain a mother bear and her litter live happily in the mountains climbing rocks and trees, swimming in the clear waters and enjoying the variety of good foods that nature provides. However, their tranquillity is shattered when tragedy strikes as a group of hunters shoot dead the mother bear and two of her cubs.
A young girl called Nieve, who lives nearby in a big mountain farmhouse hears the shooting and runs to where the sound is coming from where she discovers a frightened and confused little cub, the only survivor of the family of bears. Together with St Jean, a local Shepherd boy they take the bear home and care for him.
They name the bear Bruno and he becomes accustomed to human company, but it is not long before more tragedy strikes and Bruno has to endure being kidnapped, kept in captivity and made to perform tricks, before finally managing to escape to the mountains where he must learn how to survive in the wild. Will he ever be reunited with Nieve and St Jean again? And if so, will he be able to adapt to a life living with humans again?
Bruno, King of the Wild by French author Michel-Aimé Baudouy (1909-1999) has a wonderful natural fluency, a powerful narrative style and magical pace of the storytelling. It is naturalistic novel full of detailed description of the natural environment together with a strong message of respect for animals and their natural habitat. The ability of Aimé Baudouy to look at the world and its surroundings from an animal perspective is accurate and remarkable as it transports the reader to the natural setting - descriptions of places and smells are vivid and realistic and very precise in detail.
Aimé Baudouy was a prolific writer of more than 30 books for children and also books for adults. Bruno, King of the Wild was originally published in French in 1953 and it made the transition to England in 1962, nearly ten years after its original publication. Other books translated in English are: Mick and the Motorbike (Puffin Books, 1975), The Children of the Marshes (The Bodley Head, 1958) and Old One-Toe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1973)