Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age and His Search for Soft Trousers

Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age and His Search for Soft Trousers

by Raymond Briggs
     
 

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Raymond Briggs's funniest creation-the Boy Wonder of the Stone Age.

This funny, sad, yet wonderfully life-affirming story is about a misunderstood boy genius who refuses to accept the limitations of the world in which he lives. Young Ug is upwardly mobile, always on the brink of finding a better way, a nicer way of getting through life. He discovers that

Overview

Raymond Briggs's funniest creation-the Boy Wonder of the Stone Age.

This funny, sad, yet wonderfully life-affirming story is about a misunderstood boy genius who refuses to accept the limitations of the world in which he lives. Young Ug is upwardly mobile, always on the brink of finding a better way, a nicer way of getting through life. He discovers that the fire that comes out of the sky can make dead animal bits taste terrific, but his mother thinks this is a disgusting idea and, she adds, "Terrific? What sort of word is that? Don't you bring language like that into this cave!" He invents the wheel but doesn't know quite what to do with it. What he really wants is a pair of soft, warm trousers. But how many millions of years must he wait for them? Ug's story is told in more than 100 colorful frames with speech balloons much like a graphic novel but for a younger audience. Witty footnotes explain some of the many hilarious anachronisms.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ug is a dreamer. Foremost amongst his dreams? Soft trousers. When he balks at the stone pants his father carves for him ("I can hardly move"), his father replies, "Listen to me, Ug. Nowadays everything is made of stone. This is why nowadays is called The Stone Age." Briggs (The Snowman), with his trademark comic strip-like panels, follows Ug from boyhood to manhood on his quest for a more enlightened life, mining this rich vein of cheeky humor brilliantly. Ug's mother, the slyly named Dugs, believes that her son is headed for ruin ("He'll end up painting animals on the walls"), and the exchanges between the two frequently sound like a Monty Python routine (when Ug asks what's for dinner, for instance, Dugs replies, "Same as always bits of dead animals." "I wish there was something else, something nice," the boy says, to which his mother replies, "Nice! You're always going on about Nice!," and on from there). Ug's dissatisfaction leads to his invention of the wheel (he doesn't know what to do with it), his discovery of fire (his parents squelch the idea) and, as a grown man, he does indeed paint animals on cave walls. Briggs's pleasingly round characters and the muted palette of his softly shaded pencil and watercolor illustrations provide plenty of eye appeal, while a running tongue-in-cheek list of "anachronisms" (e.g., "Minute: [anachronism] No one knew about minutes in the Stone Age. Nevertheless, they were there all the time") adds to the hilarity. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-In this original, witty, and poignant book, Briggs explores a Stone Age boy's search for a pair of soft, warm trousers and a better way of life. Ug constantly asks "why" and "why not," and approaches all sorts of problems without quite solving them. He invents the wheel but doesn't know what to do with it; realizes fire can warm his cave but doesn't manage to bring it inside; and fashions a boat out of stone, which of course doesn't float. While his father listens patiently to his son's ideas and haplessly tries to make them a reality, his mother, wearing only a stone skirt, is shrill, sarcastic, and antagonistic, casting the voice of doom and doubt. The sophisticated story suggests that asking questions and striving for a better world is crucial to the progress of humankind. In style and content, Ug, drawn in comic-book frames, falls somewhere between a picture book and graphic novel. It is a deceptively simple and wise look at some potentially weighty issues, done with a deft, sure, and amusingly light touch.-Shelley B. Sutherland, Niles Public Library District, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Suggesting that some things haven’t changed since the Stone Age, Briggs (A Bit More Bert, p. 1300, etc.) introduces a moon-faced lad who infuriates his clueless parents by insistently questioning things-as-they-are. To the despair and fury of his dad, Dug, and mom, Dugs, Ug is forever complaining about his stone trousers, wanting something nicer for breakfast than "cold bits of dead animal," wondering whether the stream couldn’t be "bent" a bit closer to the family cave. He’s not all talk, either, though most of his bright ideas come to naught; his stone boat sinks, his wheel rolls down the hill but has no other apparent use, and though his father indulgently cuts trousers for him from animal hide, they aren’t wearable, as sewing hasn’t been invented. Briggs tells the tale in cartoon panels with dialogue balloons, footnoting his own anachronisms: "No one living in the Stone Age would know he was living in the Stone Age. He would believe he was living in the modern age. Today we believe we are living in the modern age. Time will tell." Ultimately, Ug fulfills his mother’s dark prediction that he would end up painting on walls, and is last seen beneath his art, still pining for something better. Beneath the satiric barbs there’s a touch of poignancy to this tale of a da Vinci just a few dozen millennia ahead of his time. (Picture book. 8-11)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375816116
Publisher:
Knopf, Alfred A. Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
10/08/2002
Edition description:
1ST BORZOI
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.98(w) x 12.20(h) x 0.43(d)
Lexile:
190L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Raymond Briggs is one of the world’s most popular and innovative author-illustrators. His award-winning books include the beloved storybooks The Snowman, The Bear, Father Christmas and, most recently, the critically acclaimed tribute to his parents, Ethel & Ernest.

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