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Mik's Mammoth


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In a caveman's world, being brawny and physically strong is given high priority. Mik is slight, fair and beardless, and consequently is not valued by his Stone Age tribe. When they decide to push off for parts unknown, they unwittingly leave little Mik behind. He rescues a baby mammoth in the snow and the two take up residence in a cave for the winter. What Mik lacks in physique, he makes up in intellect, and as time goes on, aided by his new friend Rumm, he plants vegetable and root gardens, learns to fish and even paints beautiful cave paintings. One day he spies his old gang being pursued by ``hordes of hairy men.'' Mik and Rumm successfully fend off the warring band and Mik is reunited with his friends, who appreciate Mik's discoveries and make him chief. In this refreshingly original glimpse of prehistoric life, Gerrard's skillful watercolor backgrounds--rock, snow and forest--sparkle with clarity. His winning verse and droll, compact characters are welcomely familiar yet, as in most of his books, this story retains an individual integrity. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

PreS-Gr 3-- Another idiosyncratic Gerrard production that equals its predecessors. Mik the caveman is a timid sort who befriends a woolly mammoth. He and the beast save the tribe from ``hordes of hairy men,'' and Mik becomes their leader. The thing about Gerrard is not so much what he does as the clever way he goes about it, and with Mik, it is not so much where he ends up as what he does along the way. The idea of brains and wit winning out appears in every line of verse and every brush stroke. The watercolor illustrations are carefully done; the intricacies of twigs, the markings of birds, the color of snow are exquisitely captured. The tribe is initially seen in medallion: heads and bodies in dense proximity, a lower border of legs and feet, each face lovingly realized. Another medallion shows Mik and his mammoth huddled around the fire in their cave. Snow is falling outside the cave and it continues around so that it encircles the piece. Every page is like this: a real stunner. While not the most dead dramatic of stories, this guy can paint! --Christina L. Olson, Beverly Hills Public Library

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