Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review: Painters of the Caves by Patricia Lauber

This year, the kids and I are doing ancients again in history.  This is the 2nd time through for Zach (11, 6th grade), but the first for everyone else.  Last time through, Zach was very young and we used simple books with Sonlight.  This time, for him, we are going much more in depth, while Noah (8, 3rd grade) and Lily (5, 1st grade) are tagging along with a more surface level exploration for their first time through the time period.  I'm not a fan of not learning something new myself, so of course I'm exploring new resources and some new topics for us to consider.  We did much more info on the ice age and cave painters this time, and we loved this book. 

This is an outstanding book for kids on cave painters/ice age peoples. The photographs are some of the best I have seen in kids books to show the actual paintings in the caves, but in addition there are large color photos of a computer simulated face of an early modern human, tools, etc.

Chapters are as follows:
1. "Great Discovery" - intro and how Chauvet was discovered
2. "People of the Ice Age" - Brief depiction of early groups, Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, what was an "ice age."
3. "A New Way of Life" - Tools invented and how that changed life.
4. "Stone Age Artists" - Early statues, beads, cave paintings including techniques
5. "What the Art May Tell" - Theories on the meaning and purpose of the art to the people
6. "The Importance of Chauvet" - Older yet as sophisticated as later, different animals, better preservation

An appendix goes into some detail on carbon-14 dating.

I found this interesting to all my school-aged children (grades 6, 3 and 1), though my 1st grader liked the pictures and my interpretation for her most. It was detailed enough to interest my 6th grader, and again the pictures helped with interest for my 3rd grader. It was the best book I have found to bridge the simpler books and the more detailed high school/adult level books on the caves, definitely a 5-star read for us.

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