Cave Paintings

by Jairo Buitrago (Author) Rafael Yockteng (Illustrator)

Cave Paintings
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Our hero travels all alone on a spaceship, through the universe, past galaxies, comets and planets to go visit his grandmother on Earth for the summer holidays. She takes him to visit an ancient cave, where he discovers handprints and drawings of unknown animals made by human beings, just like him. To top off his wonderful holiday she gives him mysterious objects which once belonged to his grandfather -- paper and crayons. On the way home he draws what he saw on his travels -- to the amazement of his fellow passengers.

Jairo Buitrago's story reminds us of what remains as everything changes. Rafael Yockteng's fabulous art, a tribute to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, presents us a wonderful, diverse future in which space travel is common, though knowledge of the past is still a secret treasure to be discovered.

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School Library Journal

In a future in which space travel is the normal way to get around the universe, a young boy embarks on a trip to visit his grandmother on Earth. Waiting at the space port to board while surrounded by all manner of alien creatures, our protagonist's travel anxiety will be familiar to any child who has traveled alone or set off on a new adventure. The variety of aliens (including tentacled beasts with odd-numbered eyeballs, anthropomorphic animals, and spooky humanoids) are fascinating, and worthy of exploration. Amazed at the infinite breadth of space, the boy arrives at his beloved grandmother's Earth, which is part technological wonder as travelers disembark the spacecraft on hoverboards with futuristic architecture in the background, part natural paradise filled with waterfalls and wildlife ripe for exploration and adventure. On one of their adventures, the boy and his grandmother enter a stalactite-filled cave, discovering paleolithic-style art from long ago. The boy contemplates the shadow of his own hand over an ancient imprint, leaving the strong impression that all are connected regardless of the passage of eons or distance across the galaxy. Longtime collaborators Buitrago and Yockteng, like Anthony Browne, are masters at creating seemingly simple tales which, upon closer consideration, conceal sophisticated themes and emotions. This book is no exception, demonstrating that there is both joy to be found in the mundane and wonder to be found in the infinite expanse of the universe. VERDICT A work at once both limitless and grounded, the imaginative illustrations will be especially appealing to lovers of science fiction and fantasy.—Alyssa Annico, Youngstown State Univ., OH

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

The pale-skinned child who narrates this story by previous collaborators Buitrago and Yockteng (Two White Rabbits) isn't fazed by the trans-galactic spaceship trip he takes in these pages; he does it all the time, "always traveling alone." At his destination planet, which readers will recognize as Earth, a small saucer flies him straight into the arms of his grandmother. Every spread juxtaposes natural and futuristic elements: in one, the boy and grandmother travel in a glass-domed vehicle to a preserve-like area, where she leads him into a cave full of paintings. A print of a human hand and images of animals impress him, and so does the grandmother's present of a family heirloom, a box of colored pencils--"They were my grandfather's, and before that, his grandfather's." Making marks on paper has power that eons can't diminish; en route home, even the four-eyed passenger in the seat behind the protagonist is riveted by his sketching. Yockteng juggles different styles of artwork with ease--magisterial views of whirling galaxies, pen-and-ink-style drawings of the boy's time with his grandmother, the cave art itself, and childlike sketches on the new pad all offer scope for the imagination. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2020

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