________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 10. . . .November 6, 2015


Red: A Haida Manga.

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.
Madeira Park, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2014.
108 pp., trade pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-77162-022-2.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Crystal Sutherland.

**** /4


ďRed, you arenít a kid anymore. You must become aware of the world outside youÖand inside you.Ē


Red, orphaned at a young age along with his sister Jaada, grows up to become the leader of his village. Situated on a small island in the Pacific, Redís tribe lives off the land in peace. Visiting traders, along with their regular goods, try to sell Redís tribe weapons which they have no use for on their quiet, peaceful island.

     When raiders land on the island, everything changes. The raiders take Redís sister with them. Without weapons, there is nothing Red and the others can do. When the raiders leave, the island returns to peace. Years pass, and the island stays quiet, but hate and the desire for revenge grow inside the tribeís new leader, Red.

     One day when Red is out in a boat fishing, he comes across a man deserted by his people and left on a rocky island. Itís the carpenter who built the weapons traders once tried to sell to Redís tribe. The carpenter begs for help, and Red saves him, seeing him as his best chance to seek revenge on the raiders who took his sister. Redís tribe notices all of their resources are being traded for weapons, part of a deal made with the traders. Red is so focussed on obtaining weapons that he cannot see that animals they rely on are being brought to the edge of extinction as new items to trade are sought. When the whales come close to being exterminated, Red demands a flying whale be built, reasoning that Ďrealí whales may not be necessary after all.

     Several years pass before news arrives that Redís sister has been seen living with the raiders. Red is determined to bring her home so they can be together again. Red sees his village has changed now that it has weapons to protect against, and attack, the raiders. He does not, however, see how much he has been changed simply by the presence of weapons.

     Mixing the styles of traditional Haida imagery with Japanese Manga, and drawing from his personal experiences of culture and politics, Yahgulanaa brings readers on a journey where right and wrong as not so easily distinguished. At first, Redís village rejects the traderís offering of weapons, wanting to maintain their reputation as being peaceful. Over time, however, Red becomes convinced the only way to avenge his sisterís disappearance is to abandon his cultureís peaceful ways and to embrace the weapons that both protect and destroy him. Obtaining weapons brings Red hope but leaves him and his village with an increasingly uncertain future. An artist who has exhibited in numerous countries, Yahgulanaaís stunning full-colour, hand-painted images pack every page. A variety of shapes and sizes, the panels emphasize the conflict and pain Red experiences as he mourns the disappearance of his sister and yearns for revenge; the pages also come together to create one large image, illustrated at the back of the book. Seeing the images as one stunning piece underscores how every brushstroke was carefully thought out and was necessary to ensure Redís story is accurately told. Red is a masterpiece in both art and story.

Highly Recommended.

Crystal Sutherland is a MEd (Literacy) and MLIS graduate and librarian living in Halifax, NS.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Updated: October 17, 2014 (hsd)