EXPLORING THE ICE AGE by Margaret Cooper


Age Range: 10 - 12
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Cooper’s enthusiasm for her topic is all that keeps this under-documented survey of human society during the last ice age afloat. Aiming to dispel the myth of the brutish “cave man,” she extrapolates from surviving fossils, archaeological sites, stone and bone tools, and the practices of isolated present-day hunting societies to develop a reasonable but abstract picture of Cro-Magnon and early modern culture. Though she gives proper due to epochal innovations, from representational art to the sewing needle—the latter ascribed to an “Ice Age supergenius”—she tends to make general assumptions without specifying evidence for them, and her accounts of some significant discoveries, such as the Vogelherd carvings (the oldest known animal images) or the lively scratched portraits found at La Marche, are related without details, drama, or in some cases even illustrations. The skimpy assortment of pictures includes several clumsy redrawings and one small map sprinkled with unidentified dots. Readers whose interest in the subject survives the generalities—“Our Ice Agers living in the Dordogne probably had a fair variety of plant foods to choose from, especially in the warmer periods”—will be stopped from further exploration by a source list comprised not of Web sites and contemporary studies for young readers like Patricia Lauber’s Painters of the Caves (1998), but aging foreign and adult scholarly titles. Disappointing. (index, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-82556-0
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2001