Monday 15 April 2024

When the World Was Soft

When the World Was Soft by Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation. Illustrated by Alex Mankiewicz. Allen & Unwin 2024. Soft cover large graphic novel. RRP $34.99 ISBN 9781761180651

Reviewed by Debra Williams

This is an interesting approach to relating Indigenous folklore, involving the Yindjibarndi people’s Creation-times stories. From a project begun in 1998, stories were collected and recorded to pass on to children and grandchildren. The Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation is based in WA’s Pilbara region, and their purpose is to collect and promote knowledge of Yindjibarndi culture. These ancient stories have now been compiled and released into a beautiful book which combines storytelling with artwork from the various group members: 11 women in all. Each artist is featured with a short bio towards the back of the book, as well as specific information about the group and the illustrator.  Combined with comic-style illustrations to bring the tales to life, it is an innovative way to present the culture not only to the families and communities of the Yindjibarndi people, but also to wider readerships. Allen & Unwin describe it as a ground-breaking graphic novel in an immediate and engaging way for a contemporary audience.

This is categorized as a children’s graphic novel and should suit those aged 10+ years. However, some of the subject matter may be a little graphic for sensitive readers.  Some adult guidance may be required for certain stories.

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