Two Neanderthal preteens weave a tale of everyday life to which even modern kids can relate.
Over 40,000 years ago, tucked into a cozy cave, siblings Lucy and Andy live with their light-skinned and hirsute tribe, made up of their family (mother Luba, father Charles, and baby brother Danny) and another (Daryl and his children, Margaret and Phil, both older than Lucy and Andy). As related in a series of interrelated (and often wittily titled vignettes), the tribe spends its days in quotidian Neanderthal occupations: hunting mammoths, cooking, caring for one another, and making clothes and tools. Brown ambitiously weaves fact into his fiction and ends each short episode with interesting commentary about Stone Age life from two anthropologist characters, a white woman and a black man. At times these facts seem at odds with the story; despite a page devoted to speculation about Neanderthal gender equity, for instance, Luba seems entirely focused on child care. Although Brown makes reference to reading "almost a hundred!” books as research, he offers his readers neither bibliography nor resources to follow up on ignited interest (other than an impressive list of museums to visit). Despite this quibble, Brown’s vivacious plotlines are laugh-out-loud funny, and in spite of the prehistoric setting, this comic charmer should readily appeal to young readers.
Read solely as fiction, this is an auspiciously clever and engaging series opener. (Graphic historical fiction. 7-12)