Written by David Elliott, Illustrated by Lori Nichols
Boyds Mills Press, 2014
This Orq. He live in cave. He carry club. He cave boy.
The plot in a nutshell: A cave boy tries to convince his mother that a mammoth makes a good pet.
Orq loves Woma, his pet woolly mammoth, but his mother does not share his affection, especially when Woma grows up. She thinks that Woma smells bad and makes a mess of the cave. But since Orq loves Woma, he tries to think of a way to change his mother’s mind. He tries to teach Woma tricks, but none of them go the way he plans. One day, when Orq is pretending to hunt, he is spotted by a sabertooth tiger who wants to make a meal of him. Woma comes along and scares the sabertooth away, keeping Orq safe. Orq’s mother sees Woma in a new light and welcomes him into their cave.
Anyone who has ever loved a pet will recognize themselves in this delightful story from author David Elliott. The story is written entirely in that stilted caveman language that you see in the first sentences listed above and I think it gives the story a big boost of personality. Mr. Elliott even extends it to the acknowledgements page, where he thanks his in-laws and notes, “They terrific.” Some of the wording is particularly funny and you will probably find yourself laughing along with your child.
Lori Nichols’ artwork is done in pencil and then digitally colored. A blue striped bird (with a family of his own) hangs around as a friend of this prehistoric family and seems to be genuinely invested in Orq and Woma. Ms. Nichols draws baby Woma so adorably that you will want to adopt a baby mammoth of your own. She also makes their mutual affection very clear which invests us in their relationship. A sequel was published in 2015 in which Orq and Woma deal with bullies.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that you don’t always see what others see in the ones they love, but you can often see the ways that they are good for each other.