Written by Job, art by Derib
“When the beavers bring Yakari a battered old canoe, the young Sioux and his friends repair it and go for a little trip—and find more adventure than they bargained for, in the person of a father coyote. Fortunately, their new friend is up to his reputation for cunning: When Buffalo Seed is cornered by an angry puma, it will take all of the coyote’s tricks, combined with Yakari’s bravery, to get the young hunter out of his predicament.”
I’d not read any Yakari before, but it’s not tough to pick up – Yakari’s a young Sioux with the ability to talk to the animals. He hangs around with friends Rainbow and Buffalo Seed and has a loyal horse Little Thunder. Together they get into gentle scrapes and always end up okay.
It’s not deep, it”s not complicated, and it’s probably the youngest of all the books Cinebook publishes. There’s none of the clever humour and knowing themes of books like Iznogoud, Spirou, Cedric, or the Bluecoats, all-ages with that little extra. This is simple and light, innocent fun.
The story is just as simple as it needs to be, characters going from one little scene to another – getting a canoe from the beavers, fixing it up, heading out into the river.
It picks up a lot when they fall foul of father coyote, played as the original trickster character of myth and legend made real, all tied off neatly at the end for the kids with a little Coyote God myth retelling. Father Coyote tricks the gang, then conveniently makes firm friends oveer some moccasins and is on hand when they need him most after Buffalo Seed gets trpped by a determined and nasty (in a very age-appropriate way) Puma.
So yes, it’s almost impossibly gentle, and it’s a read just this side of bland in many ways, but there’s a certain charm in here. And I just have a feeling that it’s somewhat antiquated charm will appeal to those children in the school library currently burning their way through countless animal books. And that’s no bad thing.
The art is bigger in scale and uses fewer panels than other similar Euro comedy albums, really ramping up the cuteness factor nicely, all adding to the feeling that, as long as you realise this is saccharin sweet Disney-fied storytelling, you’ll enjoy it. Or rather you’ll enjoy seeing somebody much, much younger enjoy it.