CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 15. . . .December 15, 2017
Yayo. Translated by Talleen Hacikyan.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2017.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
Kindergarden-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.
Review by Kay Weisman.
One winter day in the Far North, Pikiq and his friends Kri, the crow, and Bou, the snowy owl, found an old box left behind by an explorer.
Inside were coloured pencils, paper, paint, paintbrushes, and a book filled with pictures of trees and animals Pikiq had never seen before.
Out for a walk in the far north with his friends Kri (a crow) and Bou (a snowy owl), young Pikiq discovers a box. Inside he finds art materials and a book detailing trees and animals that he has never seen. He immediately sets to work recreating these landscapes and creatures, and when he uses up all his paper, he continues drawing in the snow. That night he falls asleep, determined to take a trip to see all these sights for himself. The next day as he treks through his surroundings, he “sees” elements from the book amid the familiar sights around his home.
Columbian-born, Montreal-based creator Yayo offers here an imaginative story that will encourage young listeners to learn about other places while, at the same time, exploring and appreciating their own environs. His artwork portrays the North as a vast area of snow and ice, dominated by caribou, sea kayaks, and leafless trees, and, as such, white, gray, and brown hues predominate. The tropical scenes from the book, by contrast, fairly burst with bright color, and Pikiq depicts lush green trees, multicolored parrots, and pink flamingos.
A finalist for the 2016 French language Governor General’s Literary Award, Hacikyan’s translation makes this story accessible to English audiences as well. From an aesthetic standpoint, the art is definitely frame-worthy. However, it also portrays Pikiq living in an igloo—an unfortunate stereotype that will require clarification and discussion of how present-day inhabitants of the North actually live today.
Kay Weisman works as a youth services librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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