Friday, November 10, 2017

Adventures of Caveboy by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Eric Wight

This is another series in Bloomsbury's Read and Bloom imprint, similar to Scholastic's Branches. This title is humorous with colorful pictures by Eric Wight (creator of Frankie Pickle) and simple language (with lots of ooga booga!s). But the casual dismissal of the female characters just annoyed me so much I won't consider adding this one.

Caveboy is the main protagonist. His skin isn't white per say, but one strongly suspects it is dirt and not natural pigment that makes him a little darker, especially since his younger sister is a redhead. He finds his little sister annoying. This is meant to make him relatable, I suspect, but it's a tired trope and doesn't fit in to the rest of the story. Caveboy loves to play baseskull, but he does not love to practice, even though his family keeps reminding him that it's important. Finally, when playing with his little sister (who he neither thanks for playing with him nor acknowledges her pitching skill) he breaks his club.

Caveboy then sets out to find a new club. His parents' clubs are too big. His sister's club is too pretty. Heavens forbid he should have a club with a bow on it! When he sees the perfect club, even though it belongs to Mags, a dark-skinned cavegirl, he takes it. After some argument, he gives back the stolen club and Mags helps him search for a new club that is right for him. When he finds one with flowers on it, he thinks it's "too fancy" but it's just right for Mags, who willingly trades her club to him.

The two friends decide to race. Mags puts her club down on the ground so she can go faster, but Caveboy refuses to relinquish his club. When Mags gets lost during one of their races, and cries for help, Caveboy makes a difficult decision to go help his friend. He gets a hug for scaring away the scary spider and is embarrassed, but "because Mags is his friend, he hugs back."

Verdict: It's a cute story. The illustrations are fun. Kids will probably enjoy it. But it in no way stands out from the crowd of beginning chapter book series and the continued emphasis and subtle enforcement of gender stereotypes - girls like pretty/fancy things, boys don't, girls are scared of spiders and boys aren't, girls are more emotional, giving hugs, while boys only tolerate affection, etc. takes this off my list. Not recommended.

ISBN: 9781619639867; Published 2017 by Bloomsbury; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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