Lucy & Andy Neanderthal Tackle the Cold (and Cave Bears) in Their Latest Adventure, ‘The Stone Cold Age’

Title: Lucy & Andy Neanderthal – The Stone Cold Age
Series: Lucy & Andy Neanderthal #2
Author: Jeffrey Brown
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Review Spoilers:  Low
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Rating:
By this point, it’s clear to everyone that I’m a huge Star Wars fan so it should come as no surprise that my first introduction to Jeffrey Brown’s work came through his Star Wars books. Around the time he finished up his run on the Jedi Academy series he launched a new, original graphic novel series about Lucy and Andy Neanderthal, a pair of kids surviving in an era very different than ours. When this second book in the series came out I figured it was high time I go back and read the first.

The series provides an interesting mix of fictional stories based in fact and educational material, which can be found interspersed throughout the book. Brown is upfront with readers that Lucy and Andy’s story isn’t always historically accurate because he takes some artistic licenses or because we don’t know everything about Neanderthals and the way they lived their lives. It’s an interesting balance, but he makes it work.

The fun and often funny stories about Lucy, Andy, their family, and their homo sapien friends are book-ended with conversations between two fictional anthropologists. Things that might pop up in the chapters of Lucy and Andy’s story are then explained or further explored by Pam and Eric – the scientists!

Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: The Stone Cold Age picks up shortly after the first book. The humans who appeared at the end of that book have moved in with Lucy, Andy, and their family while they wait out the harsh winter. This basic premise is the crux of the story moving forward. While Lucy takes to their new friends easily, we see Andy struggling to deal with their overcrowded cave and his wish for things to go back to normal.

And the interactions between the young Neanderthals and the young humans lead to some pretty great hijinks. The kids end up telling each other stories about cave bears to scare each other, exploring ice caves, and even engaging in a prehistoric battle of the bands. 

Many of the kids’ antics then also provide opportunities for Brown to have Pam and Eric chime in with new information about Neanderthals. Some of the topics addressed in this book include glaciers, cave bears, bartering, and more. A cool thing that Brown has included in the back of each book is a ‘Fact vs. Fiction’ section where he tries to set the record straight for young readers, educating while also entertaining.

In this book there’s also a timeline of key historical moments and scientific discoveries regarding Neanderthals — and suggestions on cool museums to check out for more information on Neanderthals. 

I liked The Stone Cold Age a little bit more than the first book, but both are very entertaining. Brown writes his books in a way that each one ends with hints as to how the next will progress. But for the most part you could read them in any order. I actually read a couple of chapters of The Stone Cold Age before going back to read the first Lucy and Andy story. While the added context was nice, the bulk of the characterization of the human characters comes in this book so you don’t need to worry about jumping right in with the second book!

If you’ve got a young reader who enjoys graphic novels but also has a fascination with history, these are great books for them to check out. Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: The Stone Cold Age blends fact and fiction into a great story that middle grade readers will enjoy. It’s full of humor and lots of fun, so it’s bound to keep the attention of even the most reluctant readers – and it’s broken up into easily readable chapters to boot.

It’s a great graphic novel for kids who want to know a bit more about their prehistorical ancestors and laugh along the way, too!