Lucy & Andy Neanderthal - Jeffrey Brown
We are fans of Mr. Brown from his Jedi Academy series and the superbly creative and funny Vader and Son book, so I was excited to receive an advance reader’s copy of Lucy & Andy Neanderthal. I knew our 10 y/o bookworm would love it, and she absolutely did. She especially enjoyed the entertaining tasks and troubles faced by the kids in the book and she’s always liked the author’s simple yet engaging art style.

Readers need to be aware that, as in the Jedi Academy series, the style of these books is unique with hand drawn lettering and black/white sketch-type drawings. This is part of the appeal, I think, because the graphic novel style is eye-catching, yet the youngsters are still reading something with true substance that teaches interesting info.

In this case, we learn about the lives and struggles of a group of Neanderthals. Mr. Brown handles this odd subject easily by making the kids and adults pretty much act and talk like modern day people, except they are doing stone age things like making stone tools, hunting Mammoths, making clothes, etc. Young readers will easily relate to the issues Lucy, Andy and the others face. It’s fun to see the two siblings interacting with one another just like kids at recess would today, only these Neanderthals are working on cave paintings or trying to effectively scrape out and chew on an animal hide in order to make clothes.

To top things off, Mr. Brown includes some interlude sections where a pair of modern day Archeologists explain what the Neanderthals are up to by teaching us real science, giving historical facts and providing dates for the events we see in the story. I thought he worked this in quite nicely so it’s not a distraction, the info is easily understood, and you barely even notice you are learning something.

I recommend Lucy & Andy Neanderthal to any middle grade boy or girl who likes graphic novel style books. The writing is clean, safe, and completely appropriate for middle graders and up. If you are a teacher or know a teacher who happens to do a “stone age” or “early humans” type of lesson, this is a perfect compliment to that. Great for home schoolers as well. But don’t assume this is simply an educational book in disguise - in truth it’s a well-written, cleverly designed, enjoyable read that just so happens to let the reader learn a little too.

If you aren’t sold on the kids-as-Neanderthals theme, start with the Jedi Academy books by Mr. Brown as those feature young Star Wars characters, which may be a more approachable topic. Then, if you or your young reader(s) likes his style of book, absolutely give Lucy & Andy a try!

Happy Reading!