Yahoo Creek would be a good start to an art or history lesson for older primary readers.
We have all heard of creatures like the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yowie, or the Bunyip. But maybe you haven’t heard of the mysterious Hairy Man or Yahoo.
Tohby Riddle has put together a picture book solely made up of newspaper clippings about this Yahoo. The clippings are about sightings of a man-like creature seen along the Great Dividing Range in the 1800s as the early European settlers made their way inland.
Interestingly, most of the reports are of a creature which always looks very similar: tall, hairy, powerful and who makes loud bellowing noises. Dogs in each report were always very afraid.
Riddle has combined the clippings with eerie illustrations in grey and white colour tones. They are his impressions of the Yahoo, as he believes it may have looked.
The Dharug and Gundungurra peoples of the Blue Mountains also have stories of this creature. To them it is a spiritual figure. It is there to guide or teach a person. They have always known of its existence. Ngiyampaa Elder Peter Williams calls it the Berai. He tells us that the indigenous peoples are able to speak to this creature. It is learnt through ceremony.
Yahoo Creek would be a good start to an art or history lesson for older primary readers. The children could use the text to draw their impressions of what it may have looked like. Indigenous perspectives versus those of the early European settlers can also be researched and discussed.
Yahoo Creek is an unusual book. It is more a lesson in history than a story book and is a gathering of previously published newspaper articles. The endpapers of the book are also covered with more newspaper clippings of Yahoo sightings in the 1800s and early 1900s. They all add to the mystery of the Yahoo.
Reviewed by Sue Mauger
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: March 2019