cover image Caveboy Dave: More Scrawny Than Brawny

Caveboy Dave: More Scrawny Than Brawny

Aaron Reynolds, illus. by Phil McAndrew. Viking, $12.99 paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-14-751658-9

If shoes had been invented, caveboy Dave Unga-Bunga would have big ones to fill. His grandfather and father invented fire and the wheel, respectively, but Dave’s efforts (including a proto-fork he dubs the “forf”) go unrecognized. Dave’s physical prowess is similarly unimpressive, leading to several close calls when the almost-12-year-old is sent on a ritual hunt with his peers. Blending modern references (“So what’s the plan, bro?”) with humorous prehistoric lingo (pokeyhorns, rippy-beaks, and stabby-cats are among the threatening beasts of Dave’s era), Reynolds (President Squid) and McAndrew (Monster Science) deliver a delightfully entertaining tale about discovering one’s true calling; this theme permeates the story and encourages readers to contemplate the definition of success. McAndrew’s full-color panels bring the setting and characters to slapstick life in a riot of scraggly teeth, fur loincloths, and goofy-looking beasts. Dave’s first adventure sets a high bar for future volumes as it mixes meaningful character growth with alarming threats to life and limb. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (Nov.)