Set in Africa, when homo sapiens was first developing language, this YA novel follows a group of children trying to survive on their own in a setting of desert, savannah and marsh. In their nomadic travels they meet other human groups, some of whom have not yet achieved language, and others who live by attacking other humans. They also survive encounters with lions, snakes and crocodiles. Lots of adventure, requiring a lot of problem-solving.
Inevitably, it invites comparison to Jean Auel's adult series, which is set in Europe at a later time in pre-history. I feel this book is much more realistic - after all, in Auel's books the same woman domesticates a wolf and a horse and discovers how to use flint to start a fire!
Recommended for kids and grownups. Warning: it is very long, about 600 pages.
A fascinating and detailed look into the development of humans and pre-humans from four different voices. This volume includes all four "stories" which I believe were originally published separately and explores life on the brink of humanity two hundred thousand years ago. While the plot of the novel is more fantasy, than science fiction, Dickinson has done an enormous amount of research for this book and "fleshes" out scientific theories about language development, socialization, and other evolutionary processes.