Lavanya Karthik: Lavanya is from Mumbai, India and is a licensed
architect and consultant in environmental management. She lives in
Mumbai with her husband and six-year old daughter. She loves reading
and enjoys a diverse range of authors across genres.
Author and Illustrator: Ernest Thompson Seton
Publisher: Axios PressISBN: 978-1-60419-033-5
First published in 1902, Two Little Savages is a classic tale of friendship and adventure, and one boy’s passage from boyhood to maturity as he learns to deal with adversity. The author and illustrator, Ernest Thompson Seton, best known as the founding father of the Boy Scouts of America, was a renowned naturalist and activist for minority rights ahead of his time, and the book is considered a thinly disguised memoir of his own adventures as a boy in rural Canada. Freshly reprinted in a pleasingly large format by Axios Press- and abridged by a surprisingly young pair of writers - this volume brims with Seton’s characteristic line drawings and ink washes, and would make a handsome addition to any budding naturalist’s bookshelf.
Two Little Savages traces the adventures of young Yan, a boy with a fierce love for nature. Enamored of stories about Native Americans (Seton, of course, calls them Indians), he longs to emulate their lifestyle, and live off the land like a true ‘Indian brave’. Yan finds little encouragement for his interests at home, bullied by his overbearing father and brothers, and forced to work to support his family. But soon he finds a kindred spirit in Sam Raften, the son of his employer, and the two boys begin exploring the woods and even attempt to build themselves a teepee.
Help arrives from the most unexpected quarters – first Sam’s father who gruffly aids the boys in their adventures, then, Caleb, a neighbour with a long standing grudge against the Raftens. Before long, the boys decide to spend a month living the authentic life of the Indian brave in their teepee. In the month that follows, the boys – now joined by the annoying, but resourceful, Guy – experience life in the wild, acquire a great many survival skills, battle predators both feral and human, and find their courage and friendship tested. They also become the catalyst for new friendships, as the adults around them gradually set aside their differences and come together to aid the boys, and one another.
‘Two Little Savages’ is as much a manual to the life outdoors as it is a novel, with copious diagrams, descriptions and instructions for survival. Written in very different times, the book might strike one at first as being politically incorrect, with its references to ‘savages’ and ‘Injuns’, and numerous references to hunting wildlife. Yet, Seton’s love and respect for nature and the Native American is soon evident, and his depiction of Yan’s gradual immersion into his chosen life makes for great reading. ‘Two Little Savages’ is also starkly honest in its portrayal of human fickleness – of all the predators Yan encounters, none are as abusive or heartless as his father, the thieving tramp or Caleb’s conniving son in law.
In his foreword to the book, editor Henry Lewis recalls how reading it made him want to put down his video games, “..make himself some moccasins and go live like Yan”, and I suspect that sentiment will find resonance with a lot of readers. Two Little Savages is a rousing wake up call to the adventurer that lurks in us all, and a celebration of the simple pleasures we once called childhood.
Click Here To Purchase Two Little Savages: The Adventures of Two Boys Who Lived as American Indians