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Wild Man of the Woods

TitleWild Man of the Woods
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1985
AuthorsClark, Joan
PublisherViking Kestrel
Author Profile: 

Stephen is a city-boy from Calgary, Alberta, but he and his cousin, Madeline, have decided to swap homes for the summer, sending Stephen into the mountains to live with his aunt and uncle, while Madeline moves to the city. Stephen’s aunt and uncle built their home in the country after deciding to leave their jobs in the city and adopt a more rural lifestyle. Though life in the country is a challenge for Stephen, he and his cousin Louie become fast friends and spent most of their time playing in the woods. However, Stephen and Louie soon find themselves being bullied by two local boys, Willard and Sludge. Stephen, who is bullied back in Calgary, is disheartened to find bullies here, so Stephen and David decide to fight back. Meanwhile, the cousins meet Angus, a local native man, who warns the two boys to make peace with Willard and Sludge lest they awaken the Wild Man of the Woods.


“They wandered into the living room. Louie picked up his comics. Stephen saw the book Great Masks lying on the table. He put it on his knees and began to turn the pages. There were pictures of masks from all over the world. One was an African king mask with ringed ears and a headpiece that fanned out like a lion’s mane. Another was a chalk-white Greek mask with a tragic, gaping mouth. Stephen wondered if his father had come across one of these in his travels. There was a South American carnival mask with garish painted features and a Mexican stone mask smoothed by wind and rain. Stephen kept turning pages. He came to a mask of white plaster. It looked like a real face. It was the death mask of an old man. Beneath it was an inscription: ‘Give a man a mask, and he will tell the truth’…Stephen turned another page and quickly slammed his hand down flat. He had just come to the ugliest mask he had ever seen. It had a bulging greenish black head, small red eyes, jagged triangular teeth and snake hair. The face stared at him through the fingers splayed like bars across the page. Slowly Stephen lifted his hand. Beneath the picture he read, ‘The Wild Man of the Woods – a cannibal mask.’” (84-85)

“Lightning flashed in the mouth of the cave. In its blinding light Stephen saw a greenish-black mask on a rock shelf in front of him. Above a hooked nose that crooked under itself, two eyes caught fire. They glowed redly. Stephen felt two eye holes drill into his chest. He fell forward onto his knees and looked up at the mask. There was a rumble of thunder. Two rows of shark’s teeth grated against each other. Stephen felt as if his bones were being ground into a fine powder. There was a clacking noise cold as icicles.” (137)