Yahoo Creek (Tohby Riddle, A&U)
In this imaginative work, Tohby Riddle delves into the mystery of the yahoo (or the yowie, as it is commonly known today). Reported sightings of these large, hairy beasts were rife in the first century of European settlement in Australia, and similar creatures are also common in Aboriginal legends. Riddle is obviously aware of this long and nuanced history and presents an assortment of fragments from colonial newspapers, alongside words from Ngiyampaa Elder Peter Williams (Uncle Pete), to offer a thoughtful overview of this wonderfully weird and distinctly Australian creature. Using a muted palette, his atmospheric and moody artwork deepens the mystery surrounding these creatures, adding a thrilling and immersive visual context to the words. While it’s suitable for early primary school readers, Yahoo Creek is the kind of sophisticated picture book that will appeal to a broad range of ages and readers. The quotes from the newspapers reveal a fascinating perspective of Australian history, while Uncle Pete’s words provide an important contrasting counterpoint. Many of the newspaper reports mention fear, while Uncle Pete describes misunderstandings. This is a book that aims to open up conversations about history, storytelling and truth. Young readers with a passion for mysteries and strange happenings will find much to love here.
Bronte Coates is the digital content coordinator and prizes manager at Readings