The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux


The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux by Emily Arnold McCully

Jacques Marsal was intrigued with the prehistoric bones and tools that his teacher showed him.  When he got to see the cave paintings at Font de Gaume, he was amazed.  So when he and three other boys discover a cave, they want to explore it.  Following a tunnel into the earth on their hands and knees, they found an enormous cave.  On the cave walls were paintings that looked like they had just been painted.  They explored the cave for several days, finding paintings even down a deep shaft.  Jacques insisted that they show the paintings to his teacher who at first thought they were playing a trick on him.  But when he saw the paintings and an expert confirmed them, they all knew that they had found a treasure on the walls of the cave. 

McCully tells the tale with plenty of details, allowing readers to understand the time period and the length of time the boys explored the cave.  These details make the history come alive.  The boys are depicted as real boys who play war, explore caves without any equipment and are tempted to keep the cave a secret.  They are human rather than heroes.  McCully’s afterword offers some more of the history of Lascaux, explaining what happened after the book ended. 

McCully’s illustrations done in ink and watercolor have a great contrast between daylight and the caves.  In daylight, the colors are light and vibrant.  The underground illustrations have an effective darkness around them, conveying the thickness of the earth around the caves.  McCully moves successfully between her finely detailed illustrations and the more primitive paintings on the cave itself.  The contrast between the two styles makes sure that readers know that these are depictions of the cave paintings.

A book that should delight readers who enjoy history and adventures.  Use this as a great introduction to the caves themselves and expect to have lots of requests for images from the caves themselves.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Also reviewed by 100 Scope Notes.

Rise of the Darklings: Victorian Faerie Delight


Rise of the Darklings (The Invisible Order Book #1) by Paul Crilley

At twelve years old, Emily Snow has been looking after her younger brother since her parents disappeared.  She tries to earn enough money to feed them both by selling watercress on the streets of Victorian London.  One cold morning on her way to the watercress vendor, Emily encounters several strange small people having a battle.  After the battle, two men approach her to ask her what she witnessed.  Emily refuses to tell them, but that is not the last she will hear from them or from the piskies she saw battling.  In fact, Emily has just entered the confusing and amazing world of the sidhe where both sides want her to help them and no one is telling the truth.  Joined by Jack, a thief from the streets, Emily tries to figure out who she can trust and what her role is in the future of both humans and fey.

This book is a pleasure to read.  Crilley has nicely balanced the world of the fey with the real world of London.  Filled with details about the city, this book’s setting is well drawn and delightfully mixed with the magic and wonder of the sidhe world.  Crilley also offers a feisty heroine who will delight young readers not only with her intelligence but her own guile as she deals with the faeries and The Invisible Order of humans too.  The book reads effortlessly, beginning quickly with the pages whipping by as the adventure heats up.   Children looking for a good read should look no further.  Teachers as well should look to this as a great classroom read with enough action to keep even the most doubtful listener rapt. 

A delight of a novel, this is one of the top faery books I have read for younger readers.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Egmont.

Enhanced by Zemanta