The Savage

by David Almond, Illustrated by Dave McKean. Take a look inside this book.

This is a cathartic and healing story from the point of view of a young boy mourning his father. It takes the form of a short (80 page) illustrated book which has a story within the story. The drawings are done in bold, dark strokes and coloured in blues and greens, from pale to very dark.

When Blue Baker gets frustrated writing his thoughts for a counsellor, he begins a story about a wild boy: The Savage. There is a connection there with a bully who haunts Blue and others, but in the end it is the connection made within Blue himself which matters. Integral to the story are Blue’s little sister and his Mam.

Finally, looking back on The Savage, Blue says:

We’re not as sad as we were back then. In some weird way, the sadness made us happy again.




  1. I decided to use this book for my assignment because it was in my library but I’m finding it difficult to relate with The Simple Gift. Could you help me? What are the main aspects of belonging that are similar? && which are different.?

    • Hi Mary. Not to do the analysis for you, but some of the similarities I see are: family dynamics, father loss, consequences of loss, striving to do something to effect change, forging new and stronger connections. Blue is similar in some ways to both Billy & Old Bill. Blue is in the end making a gift for his mother and sister out of his grief and healing.

      The ways the boys have lost their fathers differ, and their ages make a difference to the sense of power and agency they might have. Billy is moving to belong in the wider world whilst Blue needs to feel comfortable again in his home. Bullying, fantasy and writing and drawing are unique to The Savage (or is Billy writing as well?).

      Some ideas to help, I hope.

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