Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown, 224 pp, RL 4
Jeffrey Brown is the author of the first three fantastic Jedi Academy books, as well as many other hilarious books in which Darth Vader copes with hand-son fatherhood. Now, following another passion of his, he has created a graphic novel series Lucy & Andy Neanderthal, featuring siblings, Lucy and Andy, their clan, and some prehistoric creatures.
If you have read any of Brown's other books, then you know he is fantastic when it comes to creating engaging characters. Although I came of age with it, I'm not a fan of Star Wars, yet I found Brown's Jedi Academy books completely enthralling precisely because of the characters he populated this world with. In Lucy & Andy Neanderthal, we meet the tween siblings, their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Luba, and their baby brother Danny. Margaret and Phil, teens who are part of the clan, and the creaky old Mr. Daryl. As the older sister, Lucy can seem like a know-it-all, at least to Andy. In a funny twist, Brown gives Lucy some insights beyond her era, causing the other kids to think she's weird.
Brown includes two anthropologists, Pam and Eric, in Lucy & Andy Neanderthal. The scientists occasionally appear to share facts about life 40,000 years ago in the Stone Age as well as to let readers know when aspects of Brown's book might not be scientifically accurate, starting with Tiny, Lucy and Andy's pet cat. One thing I really love about the information that Pam and Eric share are the illustrations that accompany them. Brown shows readers what actual anthropologists might see when they are at a dig site, impressing upon readers that what we know scientifically comes from finding the remains of these early humans and their civilization, something somewhat abstract that could elude them.
In this first book in the series, readers see Lucy and Andy and their clan as they hunt a wooly mammoth, with the violence of the kill off the page. We see Lucy creating some cave art on a rainy day with some very funny hijinks and critiques from the adults of the clan. In another chapter Andy's toothache ends with an explanation from Pam and Eric on Neanderthal health care, of the lack thereof. Finding the remains of a wooly mammoth leads to a chapter on Neanderthal clothing and how it was made, which is important as winter approaches. As Lucy & Andy Neanderthal draws to a close, the clan encounters another group of people who seem a bit more civilized. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book as winter sets in!