Cave-Painting, Cave-Crawling Girls: A connection thousands of years old and held together by an amber disc

The Jewel in the Cave

The Jewel in the Cave by John Moss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I read this intriguing, fast-paced novella in a few hours and was left wishing for more of Angel and MEme’s story.

Angel is a cave scientist who was born without the use of her legs. Her upper body strength and fearless exploration skills give her an edge over the other scientists who are unable to traverse the smaller, suffocating tunnels. There Angel finds a hidden prehistoric art gallery, painted by the “girl who was born from the earth”–MEme.

Author, Moss, cleverly shares each young girls’ story of overcoming struggle and loneliness through persistence and bravery in a dangerous environment.

This novella would be a perfect compliment to HSP3M, Intro to Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology secondary school courses. As well, an inspiring read for young girls who are facing ability challenges, or who have an interest in the past, pre-language societies.

As a fan of Jean M. Auel’s “Clan of the Cave Bear” Earth Children’s series, I thoroughly enjoyed this journey into the past. “The Jewel in the Cave” would be a great mother/daughter reading pairing to the Earth Children’s series. The Clan of the Cave Bear

As well, a wonderful summer read for middle grade and young adult and new adult readers who plan to explore the Royal Ontario Museum and Petroglyph’s Provincial Park or their local museums.

As an English text for reader response lessons in English classes, teachers could explore characterization-specific traits that lead to each girl overcoming their challenges. It is a diverse, inclusive novella with the main character having a physical disability, and the references to MEme being of a mixed tribe and considered “different” from her people.

—Connections to self: “The story of being born out of the earth was MEme’s own. It puzzled her and frightened her and gave her strength. It allowed her to see things others couldn’t see, to connect opposing worlds others couldn’t connect. She saw animals in rock and released them with paint. She understood how one thing could stand for another, how words could be made from the shape of a sound”. (Moss, 57)
—Connections to world: “She named things and tried to teach the children these names. There was no turning back. Language was a new technology. It was here to stay. Some of the older people tried to avoid it. They feared words would get mixed up with the actual world. They feared they would lose what was real.” (Moss, 122)
—Character study: “Being born without the use of her legs gave Angel Harris certain advantages. She became an excellent swimmer, a wheelchair runner, and she could arm-wrestle men with bewildering success. More importantly, her special abilities meant she could worm her way through impossibly small passages…” (Moss, 6)

If you are looking for an empowering read for a young female in your life, I highly suggest this Silver Medallion Novella by critically acclaimed Canadian author, John Moss.



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