Littlenose the Hunter was first published in 1972 when the author had read some of his stories on Jackanory on the BBC. Other books followed, and a collection was republished in 2006 by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, London, with illustrations by Ross Collins that are a little informed by Manga.
Littlenose is a Neanderthal boy who gets on his dad’s nerves, sets the forest on fire and has a woolly mammoth for a best friend. The stories are funny and have plenty of familiar experiences that children could identify with, as well as exploring a very remote way of life.
Children will read about starting fires, catching fish, fording rivers, collecting plants for medicine, alongside fantasy elements such as friendly woolly mammoth and Bigfoot. There’s even a handy illustrated timeline in the back putting the series of adventures into context.The book is 120 pages long, divided into six stories that could be read on their own. There’s another story, Littlenose the Joker that’s not in the book, to watch on YouTube too.
In one story children will be rooting for the Neanderthal boy as he escapes from some Straightnoses (i.e. us, Homo sapiens) across a bog. This would give a teacher a way in to exploring the relationship between humans and Neanderthals. Who was scared of whom? Did they intermarry? Did Homo sapiens kill off Neanderthals? Would we consider Neanderthals to be humans if they were around today? This book is a great way to start children thinking about this very remote time.
This is the first of a series of book reviews of both popular archaeology books for teachers and children story books about prehistory. If you’d like to nominate a book, or even write a book review, let us know.