From School Library Journal
Grade 3–6—The one day Bulu forgets to recite her daily spell "to keep the wild away," the jungle seems to invade the peaceful world of the orphanage in Midnapore, India. Two girls, Amala and Kamala, who had been living with wolves, are brought in and placed with the other children. Rev. Singh, who runs the orphanage, aims to "tame [them], rinse the jungle out and fill [them] with God's mercy." Bulu grows from resenting the attention given the wolf girls to grieving at the death of Amala and, finally, to showing empathy for Kamala's loneliness. She willingly supplies the words the wolf girl is lacking. The acrylic art is rendered on large, stylized spreads. The story subtly explores the tension between those who would allow the jungle to exist on its own terms and those who would eliminate it, with men "ripping down trees for miles." There is also the notion of taming the wild, which permeates the story and infuses it with a sense of sadness. Scenes of the wolf girls crawling, lapping food from a dish on the floor, sniffing at bowl and pillow, or folded in on themselves in dark isolation demonstrate the futility of helping them live among people. In a perfect departure from the pattern of spreads, Bulu's unsuccessful attempts to befriend Kamala are shown in encircled vignettes. An author's note informs readers that the story is based on the real recovery of two girls in 1920.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
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A long author's note describes the fascinating true story of two feral children, found living with wolves in northwest India in the 1920s and brought back^B by a Christian missionary to live in an orphanage. Noyes tells the story in free verse through the fictionalized viewpoint of one of the other children in the orphanage, a girl named Bulu. Hall's stylized acrylic illustrations show the feral children eating on their knees, licking their plates like dogs, loping on all fours, and snarling at Bulu's attempts at friendliness, but the picture-book format seems too young for the subject. The story will spark the most interest in older children, who will want more facts about the real girls and how they lived with their wolf mother in the jungle. As Noyes points out, the story probably inspired Kipling's classic Mowgli books. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved