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The Child and the River

The Child and the River

by Henri Bosco, translated from the French by Joyce Zonana

Regular price $14.00
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The August 2023 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club

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 Finn, The 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.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681377421
Pages: 96
Publication Date:


The poetry of this ecological tale lies in the balance between the power of the forbidden and a quest for the lost childhood paradise that Bosco sought all his life, in his writing and in his dreams.
Le Temps

Henri Bosco is the greatest dreamer of our time.
—Gaston Bachelard

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