Yotsuba&! Volume 9
This series by Kiyohiko Azuma, the continuing adventures of a young green-haired girl who is almost supernaturally innocent, provides a take on daily life that serves as a terrific getaway from the reader’s cares.
The first chapter of Yotsuba&! volume 9, which took an unexpected twist, worked as a surprise for me because of how well it’s all drawn. Unusual occurrences are somewhat run-of-the-mill for Yotsuba, anyway, so when something odd started happening, I rode with it until the page turn. Later, seeing the poor little girl, with tears in her eyes, demanding her dad say he’s sorry was both touching and hilarious. Her behavior is so realistic that I believe her and her actions, which makes the reading all the more enjoyable.
The big event in this book is Yotsuba gaining a new friend, an old-fashioned jointed teddy bear she names Juralumin. Which pointed out the biggest lack in this series for me. I really wanted some cultural/ translator endnotes for this volume to explain the meaning and origin of this name. Without them, I kept getting distracted wondering where that odd moniker came from. Small mentions, like the name of a famous large supermarket, are footnoted in the page gutters. It’s very nice not to have to flip back and forth in the book, but there’s limited space and no room for longer explanations.
There’s plenty of cuteness to go around this volume, as Yotsuba introduces Juralumin to making coffee and riding in a little red wagon and going to a restaurant for grilled meat. There’s nothing like seeing a girl and her favorite stuffed friend, especially when the games only make sense to her. Yotsuba’s eyes are a key indicator of her moods, flaring when she’s angry or frustrated or amazed or afraid.
The gorgeously detailed drawings are the perfect escape, showing exactly what it’s like to go shopping or wander the neighborhood or bounce on an exercise ball (a high point in the animated action). Late in the book, the gang goes to view hot air balloons, a terrific excuse for scenery and visual display. Reading a volume of Yotsuba&! is always a great reminder to slow down and enjoy the experiences around us.