Book Review: Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age is a middle grade novel by David Zeltser. Lug is a caveboy who would rather paint than hit other people or animals with rocks. When Lug and another caveboy are banished for failing to catch a jungle llama, he thinks he is alone. Soon Lug finds others who believe in him; his clanmate Stony and a new friend, Echo, a girl from a rival clan who can talk to animals and just may be prehistory's first vegetarian/animal rights activist. Together they face even bigger challenges. Lug discovers the Ice Age is coming and he has to bring the warring clans together to save them not only from the freeze but also from a particularly unpleasant migrating pride of saber-toothed tigers.

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age is a wild ride, with social commentary on the side. In a world where hitting someone in the head with a rock is the height of social discourse. Everyone needs to follow the rules of the ‘Big Man’ who leads their tribe or risk death or banishment. Lug had to hide his love of art, since brute force is the only thing that gained acceptance, he is bullied and an outsider even before being banished. Failing to capture a jungle llama for a competition against another clan was the trigger to get him banished, but even before that he really did not fit in. Lug is a thinker, dealing with bullies and being different. In his journey with Stony after being banished he discovers that his differences are not necessarily bad. His observations and art are what make him special, just like the odd things about his new friends are in truth their strengths. So while readers are entertained by kids fighting for survival and humor winding its way through the tale, they also get encouragement to be themselves and follow their own convictions. 

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age is a great survival tale, full of adventure and humor. There is also a great deal about coming of age and being treat yourself. I think readers with a variety of interests will greatly appreciate the book, and come away from it both excited and feeling ready to face their own challenges. 

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