“My name is Buta Krimi. I am the carrier of disease!” Screams the giant worm through its huge mouth full of teeth. “I suck in human energy through my spit. The dirtier the human environment, the greater my power!”
This is an excerpt from the latest edition of Luh Ayu Manik Mas, a superhero book created by BASAbali, a registered foundation focused on preserving Balinese language and promoting its continued use in society. This seventh edition of the book takes on a very topical title, ‘A Monster Virus Attacks the Village’, drawing on the current realities and experiences of the pandemic. It was launched at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2021.
About the Book Series
The Luh Ayu Manik Mas book series was created by BASAbali as an effective educational medium for children, using the power of storytelling and imagination to spread awareness of specific topics, whilst simultaneously provide reading practice in three languages.
Predominantly, the book series was created to encourage more Balinese children to read in the local Balinese dialect. However, as the book is trilingual (Balinese, Indonesian, English), it allows readers to practice their linguistic skills across different languages.
The character, Luh Ayu Manik Mas, is a special creation as well. Luh Ayu is a modern 8th grade firl from Bali, Indonesia, who transforms into an environmental superhero, Luh Ayu Manik Mas, when danger strikes! Every issue covers a different topic, from plastic waste and nature conservation to education and books; the stories draw some inspiration from or make references to Balinese folklore and culture, whilst simultaneously creating a whole new, imaginative world for readers to immerse themselves into and be inspired by. She is one of the first teen superheroes from Indonesia!
The character and her stories extend beyond the pages of the book. Luh Ayu speaks directly to the community through her social media profiles, engaging with the youth, answering questions and sharing insight. Some of the stories have also been made into animations.
Through online engagement with children, posing questions and hearing feedback, local authors and illustrators turn these discussions into the comic book adventures. This means that the community itself is involved in the actual production of each book and each of Luh Ayu’s adventures. Authors, illustrators and animators and mainly Balinese.
Edition 7: ‘A Monster Virus Attacks the Village’
The launch of the book’s seventh edition took place at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2021. It began with a very unique and special wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performance, with the dalang (puppet master) adapting the very story of the book into his performance, including a puppet character representing Luh Ayu Manik Mas.
This was followed by a discussion with the edition’s author, Ni Putu Ayu Suaningsih (Ayus), and Project Coordinator Ni Nyoman Clara Listya Dewi (Clara), from BASABali Wiki. Ayus, a 23-year old writer originally from Nusa Penida, explained that the initial submission for writing was based on the topic of public health.
The 7th Edition certainly covers this them, showing the effects of lack of good hygiene. Of course, this is depicted in creative ways with the help of illustrator Dwi Suputra, with a flatworm drawn as a towering creature and the Covid-19 virus refashioned into a muscular beast that the hero must fight. The story also draws on how the community must work together to defeat these public health threats, another great lesson for young readers.
Purchase a Copy
Luh Ayu Manik Mas is available in bookstores, including Ganesha Bookshop Bali, Kinokuniya and also on Amazon. However, BASABali Wiki is running a comic book donation program!
If you would like to donate a copy (or copies) of this wonderful book series to a disadvantaged family or children in remote areas, so that they can learn from and fall in love with this Balinese superhero, you can do so through the program. This will help to increase the literacy of vulnerable children. Go directly to their GoFundMe page here: https://gofund.me/dd13c961
BASAbali Wiki is also running a Luh Ayu Manik Mas comic donation program. Donations are intended for vulnerable children/from poor families. This donation is expected to increase the literacy of vulnerable children so as to give them the opportunity to be more advanced. Please click https://gofund.me/dd13c961 to join this donation program.