Fresh from his success at inventing the ice cream truck and summer break, twelve-year-old Dave Unga Bunga is feeling on top of the world in his prehistoric community of Bleccchh. While Dave’s friends keep him humble, particularly the special girl in his life, Rockie, the rest of the villagers continue to fuel his confidence. Trouble comes when unexplained smoke is seen on the horizon, and the village’s leader, Shaman Faboo goes missing. The villagers naturally choose Dave to assume leadership, but he soon realizes that being shaman might not be what he expected as the everyday squabbles of the villagers prove overwhelming. When an initial search party fails to locate Shaman Faboo, Dave sets out with a group of friends and his father to find the mysterious others who have surely kidnapped their shaman.
The full-color artwork in this volume, as in volume 1 of the series, is entertaining and whimsical with caricatured human figures, furry animals, and amusing composition. Panel structures are accessible but varied, with some full-bleed panels and pages, and some pages divided into as many as eight or nine panels. The panels are ruggedly stone-shaped on many pages which contributes well to the prehistoric theme. Lines are curved and colors warm, adding to the humorous feel of this work, even at times when characters are in peril. One minor issue with the art in this particular volume is that a series of climactic nighttime scenes with Dave and his search party drawn in monochromatic blue last for a full 90 pages. While the effect is a good one and well-executed, it may be taxing on readers to distinguish characters and follow the intricacies of the action in one muted color for that length of time. Still, this is a minor flaw in the otherwise delightful illustrations of this book.
Caveboy Dave: Not So Faboo is a humorous and offbeat take on prehistoric times, with a few important life lessons for readers, as well. The idea that Dave is an inventor with tons of great ideas, yet still needs to learn to navigate relationships with his family, friendship drama, and the expectations of society is a timeless message. Readers will be best served by reading this book after having read the first book in the series, Caveboy Dave: More Scrawny Than Brawny which introduces all the main characters and the setting, explains how Dave lost one ear and gives the backstory on Dave and his family’s other inventions. Both books in the series are excellent additions to any graphic novel collection for youth, elementary, or middle school readers.
Caveboy Dave: Not So Faboo
By Aaron Reynolds
Art by Phil McAndrew
Viking Penguin Random House, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
Series Reading Order