COMIC REVIEW: Yakari And The Coyote (Cinebook Reviews #11)

Finally I’ve had time to once more dip my toes into the ocean of French and Belgian comic books to continue my series of reviews, as ever courtesy of Caterbury-based translators and publishers, Cinebook.

Out on the table today we have the unabashed children’s adventure ‘Yakari And the Coyote,’ in which a youthful Native American and his playmates enlist the aid of a cunning coyote to help them outwit an angry cougar. This is definitely not a book written with adults in mind (even us adults who still enjoy a bout of super-heroics from time to time).

The main characters are children, the adventure is mild, the humour broad and child-friendly. What you should consider now is ‘Do I have a child in my life that I want to get into reading comics?’ If the answer is yes, read on. If not, I’ll see you next time for my review of ‘The Scorpion Vol.1’

They gone?

Right then. So as to give a balanced review I have read this to Summer, my 5 year old daughter…

[Five and a HALF, daddy!]

…and I have to say she enjoyed it. She enjoyed it so much that she demanded to be read it every day for a week as her bedtime book. I have asked her a series of questions to help with this review because I think that her opinions are far more representative of the target audience than mine. I’ll give you my take afterwards. So here we go –

Did you enjoy the story? – Yep. A Lot!

What did you like best about the story? – The funny talking animals.

Was there anything you didn’t like? – When the mother coyote played dead and her babies got scared, and when the cougar was being mean to the boys.

What did you find exciting in the story? – When they went whoosh in the canoe [down the rapids] and when the coyote was being chased by the cougar.

Did you find it funny? – Quite funny.

Who was your favourite character and why? – Rainbow was my favourite. She’s got a pretty name and she looks pretty too.

Rainbow got left behind with the coyote family. Did that bother you? – Yes, because she wasn’t allowed to do anything.

Did you learn anything about the animals? – Coyotes are cheeky and clever and naughty. They can turn themselves green and play dead. Cougars are very dangerous and mean, especially if you go near their cubs.

Did you learn anything about the Native Americans? – They’re clever at fixing the boat. They use sap to stop it leaking. They like animals and Yakari can talk to them, but the other ones can’t understand them at all.

Would you like to read more stories about Yakari and his friends? – Yes please!

For what my opinion’s worth, here’s my take on it. As a gateway to comics for youngsters, I think it’s great. The main characters feel about 10 or 11 years old but they look younger. This expands the age range of children who can empathise with them. They live in a world free of adult restriction (in this volume, at least) and are thus forced to take responsibility for themselves. They explore their world with vigour and keen interest, passing that interest on to the readers. They get themselves into difficulties, sure, but they use their brains, their ability to make friends and their observations to get themselves out of trouble again.

I thought the story was okay, but a bit basic. The educational bits felt a little heavy-handed to me and the humour was pretty weak – jovial rather than funny. The flow of the dialogue was occasionally oddly placed on the page, but not often enough to spoil our enjoyment. The artwork is cutesy and bright, but the animals are portrayed (physically speaking) in a relatively realistic fashion. I quite liked the fact that Yakari could communicate with the animals. It brought a sort of shamanic edge to the tale and certainly stimulated Summer’s imagination.

Over all I would give it 3/5, Summer gives it 5/5 so the average is 4/5

GS Reporters: Dion Winton-Polak and Summer Rose Winton

You can hear me blather about books on Scrolls, the podcast for literary geekdom here on the Geek Syndicate Network.
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