Stuck in the Stone Age, a children’s book aimed at 8-12-year-olds from Rodale Kids, is truly a two-for-one delight. The idea for the main story was inspired by an 11-year old child named Vince Boberski who entered the Story Pirate contest. Together with author Geoff Rodkey, the Story Pirates, an improv sketch comedy groups who tour schools, Stuck in the Stone Age was born. The second part of this book “Story Creation Zone” which gives kids tips on how to write their own stories would actually be worth the price of the book on its own.
The story from Stuck in the Stone Age is clever and funny. Tom, a bubbly, passionate untrained scientist, and Marisa, a shy, talented well-trained scientist, accidentally enter a time machine and find themselves 10,000 years in the past. Tom and Marisa must work together to survive tigers and cavemen and find a way to get back to present day.
The book changes perspective several times between Tom, Marisa, the cavemen, who it turns out can express their very primitive thoughts in an extremely eloquent, yet silly, manner, and even the tiger. Different formatting and fonts make it easy for younger readers to keep track of the different people telling the story and small illustrations on the edges of pages are a fun way to keep kids wanting visuals engaged.
Speaking of visuals, the race of characters is never mentioned in the book but it’s clear from the cover that Marisa is black. This is something to note because it’s hard to find many black female scientists in children’s literature, and Marisa is a delightful and extremely relatable character. Marisa is shy and works such long hours she goes unnoticed by her peers who don’t see her come and go. Marisa would like acknowledgment for her work, but she also just wants someone to invite her to lunch.
A smart, shy woman who wants a friend and an overly enthusiastic man who has a seemingly impossible dream are characters both children and adults can easily identify with. By the end of the book, you are truly rooting for both their return to present time and for them to get the acclaim and the chance to prove themselves they are looking for.
The bonus part of the book focuses on helping kids develop and write their own stories. Topics include “What Kind of Story Is This?”, “Write Like a Pro: Show, Don’t Tell”, and “Storytelling 101: Make Your Problem HUGE.” This section is a goldmine for young writers needing help organizing their thoughts and taking their stories to the next level. Speaking as a parent of young writers this is also a resource I plan on keeping handy for years to come.
Stuck in the Stone Age is the first book from The Story Pirates and I hope to read, and have the young readers in my own home read, more selections from them very soon.
This review is from an advanced readers edition from Rodale Kids. Stuck in the Stone Age releases March 6, 2018.
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