Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Book Alert: Lucy & Andy Neanderthal

The Jedi Academy series of books was HUGE among my third graders, so I was delighted (if a bit apprehensive) to hear that Jeffrey Brown had a new graphic novel series coming out ... about neanderthals. The apprehension arose because as a former archaeologist, there's a wealth of misconceptions and misinformation out there about neanderthals (and early humans).

Lucy & Andy Neanderthal (arrives Aug. 30, 2016)

But Jeffrey Brown does not disappoint. Not only does the book contain factual information in the backmatter (a timeline, a fact vs. fiction section, and an author's note), but every chapter ends with insights about the latest thoughts, discoveries, and debates presented by two scientist characters. I am hoping, however, that the finished book also contains a bibliography or recommendations for further reading. (I received an ARC of the book from a Publisher's Weekly giveaway, and only the first 100 pages had finalized art and shading.)

Despite what the cover may lead you to believe, Lucy & Andy live pretty normal neanderthal lives. They live in a small community along with their parents and baby brother. They drive each other nuts, they drive their babysitters nuts, and their cat actually is nuts. (*Spoiler alert* No, cats were not domesticated 40,000 years ago, but as Jeffrey Brown admits, "Cats are fun to draw and make funny characters!")

Kids will love reading about the trials and tribulations of neanderthal life (including a decently-accurate session on stone tool knapping!), which are interspersed with a great deal of physical and verbal humor. Even the archaeologists/paleontologists serve as a bit of comic relief, while also providing fun facts and raising interesting questions.

My only nit-pick with the book is the choice of names for the characters. Neanderthals were not humans and certainly were not Caucasian, so I wonder at the choice of such bland Anglo names for nearly all the characters in the book. Perhaps it's preferable to made up "caveman" names, but it did make me wonder.

That aside, elementary teachers and librarians should grab a chance to read this one as soon as it arrives, because I suspect it won't stay long on many library shelves!

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