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The Picture Book Buzz

Caveboy Crush - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Do you remember your first crush as a child? I've been told mine happened when I was two. I'm not sure though, as I don't remember the guy. But I do remember his sled team of beautiful husky dogs. So, maybe the crush was on the dogs?

I've always thought "crush" was a funny word to use for a feeling of infatuation. Especially as your "crushed" if you're rejected. And these are totally opposite emotions. Maybe we need another short, easy term for that initial fascination. I know one child who claimed she had a "break," on another person. Not sure that works either.

But isn't word play fun? Especially with the English language. Beth Ferry has written a number of books that play with words and her newest picture book is a witty exploration of some of the meanings of the word "crush."

Caveboy Crush

Author: Beth Ferry

Illustrator: Joseph Kuefler

Publisher: Abrams Books (2019)

Ages: 4-8



Friendship, wordplay, and first love.


A caveboy-meets-cavegirl tale, with a twist! Neander is a young caveboy. He spends his days doodling on cave walls, chasing mammoth butterflies, and playing with his pet rock, Rock. But one day, he meets Neanne—and he’s CRUSHED! She’s short, she’s hairy, she’s perfect! Neander does everything he can think of to get Neanne’s attention. He picks a bouquet for her from the Field of the Bees. He fetches a conch shell for her from the Waves of Salt. As Neander’s gestures get grander and grander, Neanne remains unimpressed. But then Neander hatches the grandest gesture of all, and it’s Neanne’s turn to do some crushing. From Beth Ferry and Joseph Kuefler comes this sweet celebration of first love—perfect for Valentine’s Day and read-alouds all year long.

Opening Lines:

Neander was a typical caveboy.

He loved drawing on walls.

He loved chasing mammoth butterflies.

He loved his pet rock, Rock.

He also loved catching fish, which was exactly what he was doing when he caught . . .

Why I liked the book:

Neander is adorable. And though prehistoric, he pretty accurately represents the attempt of a young child to tell another that s/he likes her/him. Often young kids don't have the vocabulary or skills to define or act on these feelings. Additionally, Beth Ferry humorously reminds us that kids are always watching.

After Neander's parents diagnose his mooning and groaning as a "crush," his mother

emphatically crushes a rock. This not only gives Neander a name for his problem, but a spark for his attempted solution.

Text © Beth Ferry, 2019 . Image © Joseph Kuefler, 2019.

Neander sets out to impress the hairy, red-headed Neanne. With increasingly larger

gestures. He brings her flowers and an enormous shell, each time reenacting his Mother's action and yelling "Crush."

Text © Beth Ferry, 2019 . Image © Joseph Kuefler, 2019.

Needless to say, Neanne reacts with shock and dismay; convinced Neander is crazy. Though Joseph Kuefler's illustrations do hint at her dawning understanding. Neander's final effort to present his desire for friendship with Neanne is "a work of art straight from the heart." A fun twist at the end, demonstrates Neanne's strength, personality, and the beginning of a friendship. As an extra special treat, be sure to check out the changes in the fun cave drawings on the front and back end pages.

This is a great read aloud book for kids with opportunities for them to join in and yell CRUSH! Overall, an excellent book for young kids to see an exaggerated manner of trying to attract another's attention that could help with some children's often awkward and annoying attempts to show that they like another kid.


- can you think of other words that are homonyms (words with two different meanings)? Such as "band" (group or a ring), "pound" (weight or hit something), or "well" (healthy or source of water). Write or draw a story using a homonym;

- what is something you could do to start a friendship?

- ideas for types of play that help kids learn the right way to make friends (; or

- make bead bracelets and exchange them with friends.

If you missed Beth Ferry's interview on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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