This ORQ. (he cave boy.)

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This ORQ. (he cave boy.)
David Elliott and Lori Nichols
Troika Books
Anyone who has had dealings with young children and their speech development (or indeed their emergent writing ) will know that initially they go for the content words and omit the functors from their utterances. A similar thing happens when someone – child or adult – learns to speak an additional language. So it is with the small child protagonist in this story, which begins thus:
This Orq.
He live in cave.
He carry club.
He cave boy.
And continues in similar cave-boy speak vein.
Orq has a pet baby woolly mammoth Woma, but like all infant animals Woma grows and grows …

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From his mother’s point of view, Woma is far from the perfect pet: he sheds his hair, he’s extremely whiffy and he leaves large deposits of pooh on the cave floor.

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Woma has to go she decrees.
Orq is devastated and resolves to demonstrate his beloved Woma’s desirability by teaching him tricks (with a bit of assistance from some of his other smaller pets). The results are a series of wonderfully comic disasters …

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and a far from impressed Mother: No chance of her allowing Woma to set even one tusk tip back in the cave.
Some time later Orq’s imaginary play ‘He mighty hunter!’ turns alarmingly real when a sabretooth tiger with his mind on lunch appears on the scene. A face-off between said tiger and Woma ensues. The latter’s love for Orq proves superior and results in an indebted Mother having a change of heart about Woma.
The spare narrative style with its oft repeated ‘Orq loves Woma’ works well for this emotionally charged prehistoric tale. Elliott succeeds in conveying the strong feelings between boy and mammoth with gentle humour and occasional stabs of pathos, both elements being echoed in Lori Nichols’ splendidly quirky, digitally coloured pencil illustrations. There are some delicious details such as the stone age tricycle on the title page

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and the sign on the cave wall. And that final throwaway twist is just superb. Me love ending. Me love book.
Definitely a winner where young children are concerned and I suspect a proliferation of caveboy speak to ensue temporarily whenever it’s read aloud.

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