Farley Mowat's books have the singular property of combining the readability of personal memoirs with an intense consciousness of the natural world, Born Naked, Mowat's first book of straightforward autobiography, recounts in sprightly terms a boyhood spent in the woods of Ontario, on the plains of Saskatchewan, at the beaches of British Columbia, and on the tundra around Hudson Bay. The young Farley soon struck up a devoted friendship with "the Others" - the birds and beasts, the owls and snakes with whom he found a companionship that he could never attain with his own kind - and encountered a boyhood paradise.
The book is centered on the years 1933-1937, beginning with the Mowat family's move west from Ontario to Saskatoon and ending with their return to Ontario. Farley's youth was charmed and hilarious, and he was unbelievably free in his access to unspoiled nature. He was a registered ornithologist by the tender age of fourteen. Bird-banding expeditions, overnight outings in the dead of winter, sleeping in haystacks for survival, were regular activities. Accompanying an uncle to Hudson Bay, Farley dangled over cliffs and faced grizzly bears to collect egg specimens from breeding arctic birds.
Born Naked also chronicles Mowat's first efforts as a writer, which climaxed in his being fired from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix for a too-graphic description of the underwater mating practices of the ruddy duck. It also brings back Mutt, the famous hero-dog of Mowat's classic The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, and Farley's pet owl Wol, hero of Owls in the Family. The tale of a uniquely adventurous and clever boy, Born Naked takes its place as the foundation of the Farley Mowat canon.