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Children's Fiction Science Fiction

Cave Paintings

by (author) Jairo Buitrago

illustrated by Rafael Yockteng

translated by Elisa Amado

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Science Fiction, Multigenerational, Exploration & Discovery
Recommended Age
4 to 7
Recommended Grade
k to 2
Recommended Reading age
4 to 7
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


A young space traveler discovers art painted millennia before by a human being—just like him.

Our hero travels all alone on a spaceship, through the universe, past galaxies, comets and planets to go visit his grandmother on Earth for the summer holidays. She takes him to visit an ancient cave, where he discovers handprints and drawings of unknown animals made by human beings, just like him. To top off his wonderful holiday she gives him mysterious objects which once belonged to his grandfather — paper and crayons. On the way home he draws what he saw on his travels — to the amazement of his fellow passengers.

Jairo Buitrago’s thought-provoking story reminds us of what remains as everything changes. Rafael Yockteng’s fabulous art, a tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, presents us a wonderful, diverse future in which space travel is common, though knowledge of the past is still a secret treasure to be discovered.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

About the authors

JAIRO BUITRAGO is a children's book author who has collaborated with Rafael Yockteng on several picture books, including Jimmy the Greatest! (six starred reviews), Two White Rabbits (three starred reviews), Walk with Me (three starred reviews, Kirkus Prize shortlist), Lion and Mouse (two starred reviews) and most recently, Cave Paintings. They won the "A la Orilla del Viento" contest for the Spanish edition of Walk with Me, which was also named to IBBY's Honor List. Their books have also appeared on "Los mejores libros del año" (Venezuela's Banco del Libro), Kirkus Best Books, the Horn Book Fanfare and in the White Ravens Catalogue. Jairo has also won the Hispanoamericano Castillo prize for children's literature and the Antonio García Cubas Award. He lives in Mexico City.


Jairo Buitrago's profile page

Rafael Yockteng has illustrated many highly acclaimed children’s books, including Sopa de frijoles / Bean Soup by Jorge Argueta (USBBY Outstanding International Books) and Jimmy the Greatest! (six starred reviews), Two White Rabbits (three starred reviews), Walk with Me (three starred reviews, Kirkus Prize shortlist) and On the Other Side of the Garden (three starred reviews) by Jairo Buitrago. Together, Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng have won the “A la Orilla del Viento” contest, and their books have been included on IBBY’s Honor List, “Los mejores libros del año” (Venezuela’s Banco del Libro), Kirkus Best Books, the Horn Book Fanfare and in the White Ravens Catalogue. Rafael lives in Bogotá.

Rafael Yockteng's profile page

Elisa Amado's profile page


  • Commended, CCBC Choices

Editorial Reviews

[A] subtle message about conservation for the next generation.

Foreword Reviews

If the goal of reading books is to transport you to another world and to broaden your understanding of your own, this book is a hit.

Mr. Alex's Bookshelf Blog

An ode to the endless possibilities of art, a celebration of open borders, and a reverence for the contributions of our collective ancestors. STARRED REVIEW

Horn Book

This book… demonstrat[es] that there is both joy to be found in the mundane and wonder to be found in the infinite expanse of the universe. STARRED REVIEW

School Library Journal

Yockteng juggles different styles of artwork with ease—magisterial views of whirling galaxies, pen-and-ink-style drawings of the boy’s time with his grandmother, the cave art itself, and childlike sketches on the new pad all offer scope for the imagination.

Publishers Weekly

As with their other picture books … the team of Buitrago and Yockteng, with Amado translating, have created another outstanding story that will resonate with the youngest readers and listeners.

De Colores Blog

Celebrated collaborators deliver another thoughtful delight, revealing how ‘making marks’ links us across time and space.

Kirkus Reviews

This accomplished and thoughtful team continue to create wonder with their stories.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction Blog

Cave Paintings is an intergalactic triumph sure to inspire wonder and creativity.

CM Review of Materials

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