From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8. This sequel to Boy of the Painted Cave (Philomel, 1988) can be read as a separate entity but includes numerous references to the first book. Return picks up the story of lame Tao, now an itinerant cave painter for several clans, some two years after the death of his artist/shaman mentor. He renews his acquaintance with the Mountain People, running afoul of their demented Neanderthal shaman when he comes to the rescue of a blind girl and three ailing children that the shaman has declared demon-possessed. The rather tangled plot also includes a mysterious map; a journey to the ocean; Tao's "shining stone," which reflects the sun's light and scares away predators; physical handicaps; inter-species prejudice; tribal taboos; and many encounters with angered, hungry, or unfamiliar wildlife. So many plot threads need careful plaiting to develop a clear pattern, but here seem abruptly contrived rather than crafted. This convoluted tale needs more polishing to capture the gleam of Tao's "shining stone."?Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Two years after the death of his mentor, Graybeard, the lame Cro-Magnon artist Tao, first met in Boy of the Painted Cave (1988), returns to the Land of the Mountain People and finds them under the thumb of a new shaman, a screaming, crazed ``Neander'' named Zugar. Zugar has imprisoned three malnourished orphans and a blind girl, Deha, in a cave, calling them possessed by demons; scandalized, Tao springs Deha and they set out downriver for the ocean, in hopes of gathering kelp and abalone to improve the orphans' diet. Tao's world teems with wildlife, and the author makes sure his protagonist encounters all of it, from bears, birds, and Sandar, a huge cave lion, to the giant sea turtles that pull Tao's raft back to shore when he's washed out to sea. As in his other prehistoric adventures, Denzel develops the setting more fully than the predictable plot or the characters, all of whom are consigned limited, well-defined roles and speak in board-stiff utterances- -``Maybe you come to hunt our ibex or mouflon, eh?'' Readers are less likely to remember the perfunctory storyline than the intense satisfaction Tao gets from his art (using natural dyes and sketches carved into small stones, he takes every opportunity to depict his world on cave walls), and the author's picture of the natural world so long ago. (Fiction. 10-12) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.