In six fictional episodes directly linked to paleontological artifacts, Weaver retraces the past 2.5 million years of “hominin” (pre)history.
Framed as a modern lad’s daydreams, her reconstructions open with the short life of the Australopithecine “Taung child” and end with a supposed seasonal ritual by a group of early modern Homo sapiens in what would become Europe some 26,000 years ago. In between they offer scenes in the daily lives (and deaths) of Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Neanderthal in future Africa and the Mideast. With paintings that resemble museum-diorama backgrounds—loose, but careful with natural detail—Celeskey tracks evolutionary changes in facial features, body types and clothing (or lack thereof). As the narrative progresses, the author inserts speculative but informed touchpoints in the development of names (“Roaank Awaagh” to “Moluk of the Wolf Clan”) and language, tools and culture. Explanatory afterwords elaborate on the evidence incorporated into each chapter.
The level of violence is unrealistically low, but these purposeful vignettes add a gauzy back story to what today’s children may have only seen as a few old chipped stones and fossil bones. (resource lists) (Creative nonfiction. 10-12)