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The Child And The River

Henri Bosco

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A new translation of an evocative, Huckleberry Finn–esque French bestseller about a young farmboy, the river where he is forbidden to play, and the adventures that ensue when he disobeys his family’s wishes.

The Child and the River
 tells a simple but haunting tale. Pascalet, a boy growing up on a farm in the south of France, is permitted by his parents to play wherever he likes—only never by the river. Prohibition turns into temptation: Pascalet dreams of nothing so much as heading down to the river, and one day, with his parents away, he does. Wandering along the bank, intoxicated with newfound freedom, he falls asleep in a rowboat and wakes to find himself caught in rapids and run aground on an island where a band of Gypsies has pitched camp together with their trained bear. Hiding in the underbrush, Pascalet observes that the group includes a boy his age, who, after receiving a whipping, has been left tied to a post. This is Gatzo, and as soon as night falls, Pascalet sets him loose. The boys escape in a boat and spend an idyllic week on the river. But then the mysterious “puppeteer of souls” arrives, bringing their adventure to an end, and Pascalet must go back home to face the music. Has he seen the last of his new friend?

Long hailed as a sort of French 
Huckleberry FinnThe Child and the River is, as Henri Bosco himself once wrote in a letter to a friend, “a novel very good, I think, for children, adolescents, and poets.” A beguiling adventure story, it is also beautifully written, full of keenly observed details of the river’s wilds, well captured by Joyce Zonana’s new translation.