Although the setting is prehistoric, the parental excuses standing between the protagonist and potential pets will sound familiar to contemporary listeners.
A gap-toothed Cave Boy appears on the red cover, writing implement in hand; on the wall behind him are the drawings of the animals he attempts to bring home. Alas, the woolly mammoth is too big to fit in the family dwelling, the child’s father is allergic to saber-toothed tigers and the dodo bird is not potty-trained. It takes a buffalo stampede pummeling toward the baby dodo, an attempted rescue by the boy and a successful intervention by the larger would-be pets to convince the elders of the animals’ value. Sauer’s bare-bones, Stone Age lingo (“Me sad,” says Cave Boy. “Want pet”) meshes nicely with Shea’s heavily outlined, primitive caricatures. His uncluttered, digital compositions sport bold color contrasts and pleasing patterns, offering a comprehensible but dynamic interpretation of this satisfying, circular tale. Readers may wish for a return to simpler times, if getting your heart’s desire could be guaranteed to come in triplicate.
This account of the age-old bond between animals and children is ideally paced for read-aloud pleasure. (Picture book. 3-6)