UG: Boy Genius of the Stone Age

Raymond Briggs, Author . Knopf $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-91611-3

Ug is a dreamer. Foremost amongst his dreams? Soft trousers. When he balks at the stone pants his father carves for him ("I can hardly move"), his father replies, "Listen to me, Ug. Nowadays everything is made of stone. This is why nowadays is called The Stone Age." Briggs (The Snowman), with his trademark comic strip–like panels, follows Ug from boyhood to manhood on his quest for a more enlightened life, mining this rich vein of cheeky humor brilliantly. Ug's mother, the slyly named Dugs, believes that her son is headed for ruin ("He'll end up painting animals on the walls"), and the exchanges between the two frequently sound like a Monty Python routine (when Ug asks what's for dinner, for instance, Dugs replies, "Same as always—bits of dead animals." "I wish there was something else… something nice…" the boy says, to which his mother replies, "Nice! You're always going on about Nice!…" and on from there). Ug's dissatisfaction leads to his invention of the wheel (he doesn't know what to do with it), his discovery of fire (his parents squelch the idea) and, as a grown man, he does indeed paint animals on cave walls. Briggs's pleasingly round characters and the muted palette of his softly shaded pencil and watercolor illustrations provide plenty of eye appeal, while a running tongue-in-cheek list of "anachronisms" (e.g., "Minute: [anachronism] No one knew about minutes in the Stone Age.… Nevertheless, they were there all the time") adds to the hilarity. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/19/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-375-81611-6
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