Tek: The Modern Cave Boy

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Tek: The Modern Cave Boy Book Poster Image
Screen-hooked cave boy finds real-world joy in funny story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fun references to prehistoric times include dinosaurs, the word "troglodyte," the Ice Age, gingko trees, and a visual reference of the evolution of fish as one climbs on legs out of water.

Positive Messages

Screens are attractive and addictive, but if you put them down you can play with your friends and enjoy the world around you. There's lots to do and see and explore!

Positive Role Models & Representations

Once Tek puts down his devices, he's able to fully enjoy the big beautiful world around him and connect with his friends.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tek: The Modern Cave Boy is a book about weaning kids away from their screens that capitalizes on the trademark humor of author-illustrator Patrick McDonnell (Thank You and Goodnight). The book's designed to look and feel like a device, and it's silly fun that the main character, Tek, is a cave-dwelling troglodyte addicted to screens. Will he come out from his cave to enjoy the big beautiful world? Yes, with a little help from an active volcano. The moral's hammered hard, but the very clever humor softens the blow.

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What's the story?

TEK: THE MODERN CAVE BOY is a young troglodyte who lived "once upon a time, way, way back, a long time ago, or maybe yesterday." Because he was always "glued to his phone, his tablet, and his game box," he couldn't be coaxed out of his cave to play with his dinosaur friends. "Outside, the real world was evolving," and Tek misses out on plenty of fun -- for instance, sledding during the Ice Age. Tek's parents can't pull him away from his gadgets, but when the village volcano erupts, it blows Tek out of his cave, and he and his devices both crash. When he opens his eyes, he breathes in the fresh air, basks in the warm sun, and awakens to the world around him. At last! He can play with his friends and marvel at the stars.

Is it any good?

Kids addicted to screens and their frustrated parents can laugh together at this book about a cave boy who stays glued to his devices until a volcano erupts, blasting him into the light of day. Tek: The Modern Cave Boy is itself shaped and designed like a device. But, ha! Fooled you! It's a book about the fun you can have in the real world when you put down your gadgets and actually look around. Hey! The world is "evolving"! Someone's invented a wheel to play on! And you might go sledding during the Ice Age!

Will kids take the message of the book to heart? Will they see the error of their screen-addicted ways and go out in "the big beautiful world" to breathe in "the sweet, fresh air"? Not likely, and there's the danger that they'll detect a slight whiff of adult scolding. But there're plenty of laughs in the prehistoric in-jokes, and kids can have rollicking, cartoony fun during the time they're reading the book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of the devices in Tek: The Modern Cave Boy and in real life. Do you have trouble putting down your devices? What strategies help you? Do you have time limits?

  • How does the design of the book and the pages mimic the look of devices and screens? When in the story does the look of the pages change?

  • Find all the references to prehistoric times in the text and illustrations. Find all the jokes that make the book funny.

Book details

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