Nell lives with her tribe in a cave, and, as she has no parents, a little bear is her constant companion. She has to work hard, helping with chores, and the bear is her comfort when life is tough, so, when she accidentally overhears the elders planning to give the bear away as a present when the tribes meet to celebrate the arrival of Spring, she and Cave Bear run away. Together they follow the stream, encountering mighty mammoths and acquiring a wildcat kitten, dodging fierce members of another tribe who want to eat the bear until, hungry and bedraggled, they find a safe haven. One sub-plot tells of a hilariously inept group of hunters from the Cave tribe, trying unsuccessfully to catch a mammoth, and another describes the journey of two of the women who set off to find Nell. All is well in the end, as an alternative present is very acceptable, so Cave Bear can stay with Nell. The names of the Cave tribe are fun – the elder in charge of everything is Mayv, and we have Soo, Porl, Daev and Kehn, among others – young readers may enjoy working these out.
Martin Brown is the illustrator of the phenomenally successful Horrible Histories series, with all its associated spin-offs, and he has chosen to illustrate this, his first novel, in shades of blue, which works very well considering that this story is set in a prehistoric world. This will be fun for Horrible Histories fans, and those who enjoy humour with fanciful history.