Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Borneo Boys review

The Borneo Boys by Tom McLaughlin, Natasha Rusdy Wong and Helena Goh

Having a daily cartoon strip in Brunei about the wildlife in Borneo, it was to my surprise and delight to find out there's another cartoon work about the world's third largest island in the form of The Borneo Boys, a manga-type comic book set in Sarawak.

The story in the book centers around the legend of an antique giant vase which tests the friendship of two boys, one from Peninsular Malaysia and the other, a Sarawakian in East Malaysia.

Dzul is a young lad from Kuala Lumpur who moves with his family to Kuching, Sarawak where he meets Hong Huat, a local boy with whom he shares going to school. On one occasion, Dzul is mad at Huat for being late for their meeting at the weekend so he confronts the latter at the antique shop where he works. Eerily, a giant vase inside the shop begins to glow as if with shiny jewels inside it. Thinking as such, both boys dive into the vessel which is actually a time portal. They are met by another boy, who tells them they are in Kuching in the early days when there are no malls and cinemas and guides them through the history of the city.

While The Borneo Boys, aimed at younger readers, is a simple read, I also find it informative. Interspersed with facts about Kuching, there is also a historical centrespread on how the region came to be.

A good job and there is so much diversity and culture in Borneo, I would welcome more works to promote this great island.

- Cheah Sin Ann draws a comic strip set in Borneo, Budi and Saltie. His latest book is The Bicycle, published by Epigram Books.

You can see some images of The Borneo Boys here.

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