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Kaspar

by Diane Obamsawin

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Format: Softcover, 6x9, black & white, $12.95

ISBN: 978-1-897299-67-8

Reviewed by: School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up
In early-19th-century Germany, a young man, perhaps in his teens, was discovered living in a tomblike cellar. Kaspar Hauser had known no other existence: light, walking, the horizon, and human contact were all alien to his experience. Rescued and humanely studied by scientists of the day, he demonstrated remarkable intelligence and learned not only to speak and write, but also to express himself through poetry and art. Supported for a decade through the emotional and material generosity of a variety of gentry and public funds until the time of his equally mysterious death, by murder, Hauser remains an enigma with a touching and compelling legacy. Obomsawin’s simple, flat black-and-white drawings are a perfect medium for his story, which the author tells from his viewpoint, basing the narrative on his own writings. Like the subject’s known life, the brevity of this book solidifies the wonder of its unknown details. One of Hauser’s still-life paintings and a couple of his poems are included. A wide array of readers will appreciate this introduction to a historical mystery with ramifications that speak to a variety of circumstances and across time.
Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia