Boy, by acclaimed author/illustrator James Mayhew, is a sweet story. A cave boy wakes up in his chilly cave but refuses to cuddle up with Mom & Dad and instead heads out to find “warm”. He encounters a few dangers and eventually winds up falling asleep between his parents.
The heart of the story is the age-old message, home is where your heart is. Home is where you find comfort and home is being with your family. This is a lovely sentiment to share with young readers.
I did take note that Boy’s parents are quite unfazed by their young son taking off and galavanting all over the place in the middle of the night without even a “where are you going at this hour?” Modern parents would never get away with this (ha, ha, ha).
I also noticed echoes of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen in the structure of this book. Boy goes off to find “warm”. He’s faced with various obstacles, in this case, angry prehistoric animals unwilling to share bed space. He discovers an erupting volcano and must run back home passing through all the obstacles that he passed to arrive at his final destination. As Alan Dapre, author of Porridge the Tartan Cat series, pointed out to me, “The journey of discovery plot line is part of a fine old tradition of quest narratives” and “a great way to introduce concepts to youngsters.”
Last but not least, are the prehistoric animals; A woolly mammoth, a dinosaur and a sabre-tooth tiger in the same place at the same time and on top of that interacting with humans! While I do think this can be a bit confusing for children who are just beginning to learn about different periods in time, it’s a great incentive to start a discussion about the concept of extinction. In addition, it’s also important to allow children to develop their imagination, a space where anything is possible (like sitting in a tree with a sabre-toothed tiger, for instance). 😉
Overall, Boy is a fun read and the illustrations are superb.
Read Mayhew’s explanation of Boy on his Website.