Tohby Riddle shows us why he is one of Australia’s greatest children’s author/illustrator. Not only does this muted colour picture book have a lyrical text, it also shows intelligent, understated pictures. The most important feature is that Tohby presents Australian History to young children. His method of presenting this history is to expose uncluttered facts and newspaper articles.
It is a well known fact that many places were renamed by the first settlers after an incident or appearance (Blue Mountains). However, there are at least five times along the Great Dividing Range where Yahoo Creek appears on maps. Yahoo was the name given to a large, mysterious hairy man, who was seen by many people. There are reports in newspapers from reliable witnesses who were working in the scrub or in the bush and viewed this man. The word yahoo only appears around this area of Australia.
The Aboriginal people had the name Berai for this big fella. He was a spiritual figure for their people and had a distinct appearance and a strong smell. They believe he could be kind and guide a person, or he could be violent. A report in the Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser on the 21st of October 1882, told of five people who heard a crying noise. Using a telescope, they viewed a large animal which resembled the hairy man, sitting down in the bush.
There are many testimonies and stories written here by people who have witnessed the strange creature. Together with the muted colour of the illustrations and detailed drawings of the native bush plants, this book is a wonderful addition to any Library.
In creating this splendid work, Tohby has consulted with the Elders of several Aboriginal tribes, who confirmed the tales, and the newspaper references shown lead to the feeling of great authenticity in this book.