Your mother was a neande.., p.1
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       Your Mother Was a Neanderthal, p.1

           Jon Scieszka
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Your Mother Was a Neanderthal

  Table of Contents

  Title Page


  Copyright Page















  For Jack Dexter,

  mathematical magician and

  headmaster extraordinaire


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York,

  New York 10014, U.S.A.

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell,

  Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pry Ltd)

  Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310,

  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pry) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,

  Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

  First published in the United States of America by Viking,

  a division of Penguin Books USA Inc., 1993

  Published by Puffin Books, 1995

  This edition published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006

  Text copyright © Jon Scieszka, 1993

  Illustrations copyright © Lane Smith, 1993

  All rights reserved


  Scieszka, Jon.

  Your mother was a neanderthal / by Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Lane Smith.

  p. cm.—(The Time warp trio)

  Summary: The Time Warp Trio find themselves in the middle of an adventure

  in prehistoric times, where cave art is a form of graffiti and

  “rock” music takes on a whole new meaning.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-07831-0

  [1. Time travel—Fiction. 2. Man, Prehistoric—Fiction. 3. Humorous stories.]

  I. Smith, Lane, ill. II. Title. III. Series: Scieszka, Jon. Time warp trio.

  PZ7.S41267Yo 1993 [Fic]—dc20 92-32608 CIP AC

  The Time Warp Trio ® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any

  responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.


  It was like nothing on earth we had ever seen before. Fred, Sam, and I stood in front of a forest of strange trees and giant ferns. A rocky cliff rose behind us. A volcano smoked ahead of us.

  But we didn’t really notice any of that at first. The first thing we noticed was that the three of us were standing around completely, unbelievably, and absolutely naked.

  “We lost everything,” yelled Fred. He dove behind the nearest giant fern.

  “I don’t understand it,” said Sam. “This never happens in those other time travel books.”

  “So why does it have to happen to us?” asked Fred. “This is totally embarrassing.”

  “We didn’t lose everything,” I said. “Sam still has his glasses. You’ve got your hat. And I’ve got my straw.”

  “That’s all you have? A straw?” asked Fred. “Don’t tell me you lost The Book.”

  “Okay, I won’t tell you,” I said.

  “You don’t have The Book,? Oh, man,” said Fred. “This time we are really cooked. I knew it wouldn’t work. There is no way we are going to find The Book here in the Stone Age. We’ll be lucky if we find anybody who can even talk.”

  Sam looked around. “So, okay. Things don’t look so good.”

  “Don’t look so good?” said Fred. “We have to wait a million years for people to invent talking, writing, and then bookmaking. And all you can say is things don’t look so good?”

  “According to my calculations,” said Sam, “we’ve probably landed in the year 40,000 B.C. We are completely naked. We have no tools,’ weapons, or supplies. But we still have one thing.”

  “Goosebumps?” said Fred.

  “No, you jerk. Knowledge. Brainpower. All the learning of modern man,” said Sam. He pointed dramatically toward the smoking volcano. “Out there in the prehistoric world, we can still be kings, or at least very popular guys.”

  Fred and I looked out over the grassy plain.

  “Right now I’d settle for some underwear and a slice of pizza,” said Fred.

  Sam pretended he didn’t hear that last crack. “With our superior brainpower, we can recreate modern civilization. Observe.” He pulled a giant leaf from a bush. “Pants.” He held up a piece of vine. “Belt.” He tied the leaf on. “Clothes.”

  Fred and I did the same. We looked pretty ridiculous. But it was a start on civilization.

  Fred hopped around in his new leaf shorts. “Ug, ug. Now we learn Reading and Writing. Skip Arithmetic.”

  A strangled screech echoed in the forest.

  I checked the landscape nervously.

  “What about Running and Hiding? It sure would spoil my day to get eaten by a dinosaur.”

  “No, no, no,” said Sam. “Brainpower. Dinosaurs and cavemen never lived at the same time.” Sam adjusted his leaf. “If this is 40,000 B.C., dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years. Cro-Magnon man, our direct ancestor, should just be replacing Neanderthal man.”

  Sam paused. And at that very second we heard a terrified human scream.

  “Aha! Man,” said Sam.

  But then we heard another sound. It was a roar. A very large roar. The kind that comes from a very large, angry, and hungry animal.

  “I think it’s time for a disappearing act,” I said.

  “You can do that without The Book?” asked Sam.

  “Sure,” I said, diving behind the nearest fern.

  Fred and Sam followed just as a bunch of wild-looking men crashed out of the bushes. They wore raggy skins, had long scraggly hair and beards, and were running as fast as they could.

  “Cavemen,” whispered Fred.

  The tops of the bushes shook, and the animal that was chasing them stuck out its head. “Dinosaur,” whispered Fred.

  “Impossible,” said Sam. “Dinosaurs are extinct.”

  The big scaly head turned its beady eyes toward us and roared.

  We backed against the rock wall.

  “Why don’t you go explain that to him,” I said. “Then maybe he’ll go away.”

  The dinosaur looked at us and roared again.

  We went to the Stone Age to become kings, and were about to become lunch.


  But I’m getting way ahead of myself (or really about 42,000 years behind). Let me explain.

  My best friends Sam and Fred were hanging around at my house after school as usual. We were trying to finish some annoying math homework—very unusual. If it hadn’t been pouring rain, we’d have been long gone.

  “I’ve got a great idea,” said Sam.

  “I don’t need any great ideas,” said Fred. “I need the answer to problem 14: ‘If Mr. Sleeby walks
at an average speed of 2.5 miles per hour, how many miles does he walk in 4 hours?’ ”

  “2.5 miles per hour times 4 hours equals 10 miles,” said Sam. “You see, our problem is we’ve been going about this time-travel business all wrong. We haven’t been using our brains.”

  I looked up. “What do you mean?”

  “Well, I’ve been doing a little research, reading time-travel books—Half Magic, Narnia stuff, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Time Machine.”

  “Hey, I saw that movie,” said Fred.

  “And do you know what people in those books always forget?”

  “Food,” said Fred. “They never eat in those books.”

  “No, you Neanderthal,” said Sam. “They never pack anything useful to take with them. Like King Arthur would have been amazed by this calculator. The Cheyenne would have been wowed by a Walkman.”

  “And Blackbeard would have loved an F-16,” said Fred.

  Sam frowned. “I’m serious. If we just take the right ordinary stuff, people will be convinced we’re magic.”

  I put down my pencil. “But I just learned this great trick,” I said. “Watch me roll this straw across my desk using only the invisible powers in one finger. I won’t touch it. Watch. Hocus, pocus, straw move-ocus.” The straw rolled across my desk with my finger just behind it.

  “That’s very magical,” said Fred. “Especially the way you blow the straw so it rolls.”

  “You weren’t supposed to see that,” I said. “I told you to watch my finger.”

  “But one detail I haven’t exactly figured out,” continued Sam, “is how to take The Book with us so we can get home whenever we want to.”

  “You call that a detail?” said Fred.

  “But I think the trick might be to just hang on to The Book right when that green time-traveling mist starts to swirl around.”

  “It sounds almost too simple to be true,” I said.

  “Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest,” said Sam. “The ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes discovered he could move the world with just a fulcrum, a long enough lever, and a place to stand.”

  “Archy Meadies?” said Fred. “Wasn’t he a shortstop for the Cubs?”

  Sam frowned.

  Fred slapped him with his hat. “Just kidding, Mr. Brainpower. But what the heck is a fulcrum?”

  Sam flipped over his math homework and drew on the back. “The fulcrum is the piece the lever rests on. You put the lever under a big object and over the fulcrum like this ...”

  “... Pull down the lever. Big object pops up.”

  “Fascinating,” said Fred with a yawn. “But let’s get back to time traveling. Where do we go next? Ancient Egypt? Outer space? The future?”

  “Well, obviously,” said Sam, adjusting his glasses, “the farther back in time we go, the more impressive our things will be.”

  “Oh, obviously,” said Fred.

  “So if we go back to prehistoric times, we will be most impressive.”

  “Oh, most impressive,” said Fred.

  “Actually, for once, you make great sense,” I said to Sam. “I guess we were pretty stupid not to figure it out sooner.”

  “Speak for yourself,” said Sam.

  “Well, what are we waiting for?” said Fred. “Let’s pack up and head for the Stone Age.”

  “So what should we take?” I asked.

  “Weapons,” said Fred.

  “Tools,” said Sam.

  “What about magic tricks?” I asked.

  “Weapons,” said Fred a little louder.

  “Tools,” said Sam, a little louder.

  “Hold it, you guys,” I said. “Let’s split up. Everybody take whatever you think is best from the house. We’ll meet back here in half an hour.”

  “What about your mom?” said Fred. “I’m still in trouble for breaking your lamp.”

  “Don’t worry,” I said. “She won’t be home until five. It’s only four. We’ll take off for the Stone Age at four-thirty and be back at—”

  “Four-thirty,” said Sam. “With plenty of time to finish homework for Mr. Dexter, and put everything back for your mom.”

  We scattered. And 30 minutes later, we were standing in my room, loaded for time travel.

  Fred held a slingshot and a barbecue fork. A Swiss army knife, a water pistol, and a Walkman hung from his belt. His pockets were stuffed with tapes, marbles, and stick matches.

  Sam looked like a walking gadget store. Pens, can openers, potato peelers, scissors, thermometers, buckles, zippers, paper clips, safety pins, hammers, pliers, and a folding saw hung from every available belt loop and pocket.

  I wore my magician’s top hat and filled my pockets with magic rings, my wand, flash paper, coins, scarves, ropes, and juggling balls. I held The Book with both hands.

  I looked in the index for “Cavemen,” but found only “Cave painting—p. 123.”

  “Time Warp Trio, prepare to meet your ancestors,” I said and flipped The Book open to page 123. There was a picture of a cave painting with a spiral of stars, moons, handprints, and three stick figures. And right on cue, the green time-traveling mist swirled around our feet.

  “Hang on to that book,” said Sam.

  “Sam, I have to hand it to you,” said Fred. “Most of the time you are an obnoxious know-it-all.” The mist rose to our necks. “But for once in your life, you’ve come up with a great idea.”

  The mist closed over our heads and we were gone to the time before time.


  The dinosaur roared and shook the branches.

  “Yeah, Mr. Great Idea. Go tell him he’s extinct,” said Fred.

  We flattened ourselves against the rock. We were trapped.

  “Forget talking,” whispered Sam. “Joe, how about some magic? Quick.”

  I held up my straw.

  “I don’t think so,” said Fred. “Grab these rocks. Maybe we can scare it off.”

  Fred picked up a stone and leaned back to throw. That’s when his leaf started to slip. The dinosaur roared. Fred tried to pull up his leaf pants with one hand, and throw with the other. He hopped on one leg and then crashed into Sam and me and knocked us all into a heap. The dinosaur roared again and then suddenly hiccupped and laughed.

  Sam and I looked at each other.

  The dinosaur laughed.

  We all looked closer.

  The dinosaur laughed and shook and then lost its head. I mean it really lost its head. The head fell out of the bushes and rolled down a little hill. The bushes kept laughing.

  The bushes shook again and three girls stumbled out, laughing so hard they could hardly stand up. They were about the same size as us and wore animal-skin dresses. The tallest had long, wavy red hair. One had short blonde hair and a necklace of shells. And the third girl covered her eyes and wouldn’t look right at us.

  We stared at the dinosaur head, then the girls. The shy one hiccupped and they all cracked up again, laughing and pointing at us and then the head.

  “It wasn’t that funny,” said Fred, fixing his leaf.

  The cavegirl with the necklace seemed to be the leader. She calmed her friends down and motioned for us to come closer. She sized us up as we approached. The red-haired girl signaled something with her hands. Her friends looked at us and cracked up again.

  “Knock it off,” yelled Fred. “Or I’ll brain you with this rock like I was planning to.”

  All three girls opened their eyes in surprise. They made signs with their hands in front of their mouths.

  Sam imitated the sign and nodded. “Yes, we talk.” He pointed to them. “You talk?”

  They looked puzzled.

  “Do you have any form of verbal communication?” asked Sam. He waved his hands in circles under his chin.

  The tall red-haired girl nodded. She ran to the bushes and came back with a cone-shaped thing made of sticks and covered with skin. She lifted the small end to her lips and roared a very loud and very convincing dinosaur roar.

e all jumped. The girls fell on each other laughing again.

  “Very funny,” said Fred. “We go back to the Stone Age to be kings, and we wind up doing Stupid Human Tricks for cavegirls.”

  We took a closer look at the dinosaur head. It was made out of the same sticks and skin as the megaphone. The eyes were clear red stones. The teeth were made of sharpened bones.

  “Let me try to talk to them,” I said. I put one hand on my chest. “Joe.” I touched Sam. “Sam.” Then Fred. “Fred.” I repeated, “Joe. Sam. Fred.”

  The leader nodded and pointed to us. “Joe. Sam. Fred.” Then she pointed to herself. “Nat-Li.” She held her red-haired friend by the arm. “Lin-Say.” Then she pointed to her hiccupping pal. “Jos-Feen.”

  I repeated, “Nat-Li. Lin-Say. Jos-Feen.”

  Nat-Li clapped and smiled. Jos-Feen hiccupped again and looked away.

  “Hey, I think we’re talking,” said Sam.

  “Isn’t that special,” said Fred. “Now let’s invent the alphabet, write The Book, and get out of here.”

  The girls talked and signed to each other. Then Nat-Li spoke to us. “Joe, Sam, Fred.” She pointed to the volcano in the distance. “Ma.”

  “I think they want us to follow them,” I said.

  “But what if they’re cannibals and are taking us home to their mom so she can cook us up for dinner?” said Fred.

  “Not very likely,” said Sam. “Most human cultures had very strict taboos against eating their own kind.”

  Something howled in the fern forest behind us.

  “We’re not going to find The Book lying around here,” I said. “And if we do stay here, we might just end up being someone else’s dinner.”

  “That could be a problem,” said Fred. “Let’s go see Ma.”

  Lin-Say picked up her megaphone. Nat-Li and Jos-Feen lifted the fake dinosaur head. And we followed them toward the smoking volcano.

  “I wonder why they were scaring those other caveguys away,” said Sam. I looked at the sharpened bones on the dinosaur head bobbing up and down ahead of us. I didn’t want to say anything, but I had an uneasy feeling l we were ,about to find out why.

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