Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age and His Search for Soft TrousersPaperback
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- Publisher: RED FOX
- Format: Paperback | 32 pages
- Dimensions: 220mm x 292mm x 4mm | 200g
- Publication date: 3 October 2002
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0099417898
- ISBN 13: 9780099417897
- Illustrations note: 32
- Sales rank: 24,002
Ug and his parents are living in the Stone Age. And that means stone blankets, stone cold food, an even colder cave and, worst of all, hard stone trousers! Being an inquisitive and intelligent child, Ug suggests a series of modifications to improve the quality of family life. His ideas about heating, cooking, boats, and balls that actually bounce are met with a hostile reaction by his parents who don't know what he's going on about. Even Ug himself is occasionally unsure of the purpose of his inventions - his round stone that rolls down the hill is great, but what is it actually for? With the help of his father, who is slowly coming round to his son's way of thinking, Ug comes tantalisingly close to his ultimate garment goal, only to find that there are some obstacles even a boy genius can't overcome.
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Raymond Briggs was born in Wimbledon Park, South London in 1934. Developing an early interest in illustration, he attended the Wimbledon School of Art at the age of fifteen. After completing a typography course at the Central School of Art, he went on to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. A passionate proponent of the art of the strip cartoon, Briggs has created many of his best-known books in this format. His is a formidable canon of work, beginning in the late 1950s. Several of his books have been made into highly acclaimed animated films. In addition to the Kate Greenaway Medal (for the Mother Goose Treasury and Father Christmas), Briggs has also received the Kurt Maschler Award and the Children's Book of the Year Award (for The Man), the British Book Award's Best Illustrated Book of the Year (for Ethel and Ernest) and the Smarties Silver Prize (for Ug). He lives in Sussex.
By 365 Graphic Novels 27 Mar 2014
At first reading this is a childrenÃ¢??s book all about a Stone Age boyÃ¢??s longing to have things (like trousers) which arenÃ¢??t made of stone. Looking deeper it actually tells you a lot about children and adults.
Ug is constantly asking questions which drives his parents mad. His questions make sense to him and to us as a reader living in the future. UgÃ¢??s parents have always known a world where everything is made of stone and cannot entertain the notion things could be different. This is a wonderful example of how a childÃ¢??s mind is much more intuitive and creative than an adultÃ¢??s. As grownups we are too attached to the status quo and merely dismiss childrenÃ¢??s insights as silly.
The art is typical square panels but these are varied in size and layout according to needs of the story. There is a wonderful page where the diagonal of a hill serves as an excellent divider and cleverly stretches over two pages. Day, night, interior and exterior are handled with aplomb by using palette changes and there is a wonderful sunset too.
There is plenty of dialogue with large oversized speech bubbles. These elegantly overlap to clarify the order of speech. There are a lot of footnotes, presented with the frames, which unlike the genius of Fungus the Bogeyman arenÃ¢??t actually funny. They serve merely to highlight where a modern turn of phrase is used, the origin of which is far in UgÃ¢??s future. They prove an unwelcome distraction.
This is an enjoyable read that operates on many levels.
"This will give children a way of looking at how things have changed over time" Nursery World
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) (Kirkus Reviews)