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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

In Review: Yakari And The White Fleece

Cinebook publish a wide range of Franco-Belgian bandes dessinees adventure albums that they have translated into English, from the adult themed XIII and Largo Winch to the more "all ages" Clifton and Yoko Tsuno. One of their most junior series is Yakari which tells the tales of a Red Indian boy in the time before the white men appeared on the plains and it is written by Job (André Jobin) and illustrated by Derib (Claude de Ribaupierre). The latest album produced by this Swiss team to have been translated into English is Yakari And The White Fleece.

Two Lakota Sioux warriors, Bold Crow and Watchful Snake, leave their tribal hunting grounds as Bold Crow attempts to capture a wild stallion. Before he manages to, he is attacked by an eagle which knocks him from his horse and steals his talisman necklace. Watchful Snake returns the comatose Bold Crow to the tribal village where the tribal leader declares that Bold Crow will remain in a coma until the talisman is returned.

Yakari takes his pony, Little Thunder, and the two set out up the high mountain to find the eagle's nest and to recover the talisman. While they initially think that the bird is Great Eagle, Yakari's totem, they soon discover that it is not and that the mountain animals, while happy to help the pair, are themselves wary of the huge eagle. In the snows at the top of the mountain, it is the brave mountain goat Broken Horn that gives Yakari the most help.

Yakari titles have been published in the UK before in the late 1970s when Longman published two books from the series but, as ever, it is Cinebook who have stuck with the series and Yakari And The White Fleece is their eight Yakari title, translating the thirteenth Yakari album, Yakari Et La Toison Blanche, that was first published in France in 1985. The series has reached it 36th book in France as well as having two different animated TV series based on it.

Yakari is very much a series at one with nature and, as the young Sioux boy talks to the wild animals, they talk back to him, from the elk via the marmots to the mountain goats that he meets and befriends as he climbs higher and higher up the mountain. Job's plot is a quest storyline that, while uncomplicated, is never simplistic as the animals help Yakari to overcome his difficulties in climbing towards the eagle's nest, while Denib's artwork is humorous without becoming too tongue-in-cheek for what is, after all, an adventure story.

Yakari And The White Fleece with its larger than normal text, uncomplicated plot and friendly artwork, makes for a junior book that is well crafted and should find favour with the younger members of the family.

• There are more details of the English language Yakari books at the Cinebook website. The next book in the Cinebook series is Yakari And The Coyote which is due to be published in November 2011.

• There are more details of the French language Yakari books at the official Yakari website (in French).

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