From Scientific American
The bounty of this art is a celebration. The brief text by a long-admired writer is clear, informed and measured, just right for readers in the middle grades and upward. It is knit into a lustrous set of large color photographs of European cave art, well supported by modern paintings (in particular, reconstructions by Jack Unruh) and by apt photographs of ancient carvings and implements. The vigorous beauty of murals painted by the light of lamps fueled by animal fat is stunning. Here are full masterpieces--bison and reindeer, cave lions and spotted horses--done hundreds of centuries back, when woolly rhinos roamed the south of France. The carbon dating that fixes those times long before history is made credible in a simple page or two. One editorial slip labels a famous Lascaux painting by a caption that ascribes it to the cave of Chauvet. When the old painters were at work in Lascaux, the paintings in Chauvet were already about as old as Lascaux is now. Today the two appear to be of remarkably similar merit.
Gr. 4^-8. Beginning and ending in Chauvet cave in southeastern France, this impressive work is rich in both its artwork and its text. Lauber goes well beyond descriptions of the extraordinary paintings found in the cave to give readers a true sense of the times. Drawing on fossil finds and the cave paintings themselves, she looks back at the development of early modern humans, explaining in seemingly effortless prose how the artists fit into the scheme of human evolution. We learn what Stone Age humans ate, where they lived, what they wore, why they painted what they did--with Lauber always taking care to draw clear distinctions between accepted fact, informed speculation, and ongoing controversy. The lavish illustrations are as stimulating as the text. There's an excellent map, a selection of expertly reproduced pictures of the cave paintings (including many close-ups), and some recent artwork (always clearly labeled as such) depicting the Stone Age people and their various activities. One especially fascinating picture is a computer-produced image of what a Neanderthal might have looked like. An appended section explains the process of carbon dating, and a short list of related adult books is provided. Great for browsing and for classroom use at a variety of levels, this is one armchair journey that won't easily be forgotten. Stephanie Zvirin