“Yéil, the Courageous Raven”

“Yéil, the Courageous Raven”

“Yéil, the Courageous Raven” 

Our new fairy tale takes us to Alaska – or more precisely to one of the Native American tribes in the southeast of the country. We are immersed in a fantastic story that tells us about the creation of the world through light and warmth.

In 1867, Alaska was purchased by the USA; by that time, the land had already been inhabited for many thousands of years. The Tlingit people were one of a number of Indian tribes that settled there; they are one of the indigenous peoples of south-eastern Alaska. 

The surrounding area offered abundant resources and the Tlingit used the nearby waterways to obtain food and for transport. They lived largely on fishing and they built long canoes from the plentiful trees nearby. 

Some 10,000 Tlingit still live in the coastal areas of southeastern Alaska and in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The title of our story is “Yéil, the Courageous Raven”. In Tlingit mythology, the raven plays an important role: it is either itself the creator of the world, or otherwise plays a major role in its creation. In many myths the raven appears in several guises, and he is also able to shapeshift in our story. 

As a boy, the courageous raven Yéil grows up with his grandfather, the river god. The old man owns many treasures, three of which he keeps strictly guarded. The three treasure chests contain the sun, the moon and the stars and – the Earth. 

Yéil would like nothing more than to be allowed to see these treasures… When, after much pleading and begging, the river god finally relents and opens the treasure chests just a little, Yéil is thrilled. He experiences the feeling and magic of light and warmth for the first time. 

From that moment on, he is unstoppable: he frees the treasures from their chests. However, he is grabbed by his angry grandfather and hurled into the depths of space as punishment.

But now that they are free, what happens to the treasures? And the grandfather? After many years, the river god sets out to find his courageous grandson, Yéil…

The illustrator Ceyhun Şen was fascinated by the unique nature of this “universal” story and is currently illustrating it for our next picture book. He sent us the sketches and the colour illustration that you see here as a first impression.