Yotsuba&! Volume 14
The thing about Yotsuba&! is that I could pretty much repeat the first half of my review of the previous volume, because the series is that consistently good. It’s still the reading equivalent of really well done comfort food. There’s still a number of years between releases. It’s still about a child’s imagination mixed with humor and good feeling and family and the occasional moment of poignancy.
The main difference with Yotsuba&! volume 14 comes in the activities Yotsuba and her friends and family engage in. The book opens with the adorable little girl, her dad, and friend Jumbo making bead necklaces, which she finds “surprisingly fun” (after a bit of struggle with greed, not wanting to share any of her “jewels”). It’s great to see the men happily wearing their creations, just as the little girl does, and the necklaces even pop back up in later chapters.
Yotsuba also plays princess and goes for yoga with the neighbor girls next door. I didn’t care much for the running gag in that chapter, where the young women are assumed to be exercising to make themselves prettier and be worrying about having gained weight, but it is fun to see how flexible the child is. Youth has many virtues.
The back half of the book is made up of connected chapters in which her father takes Yotsuba to Tokyo. She asks people where she should go and what she should see, and she struggles with the sheer number of people riding the train and how to get around, but once there, they play in the park and eat at a fancy buffet. It’s all gorgeously portrayed, and it’s a wonderful reminder, right now, of what we’re missing until we can travel and share gourmet food with friends again. Until then, it’s a feast for the eyes and a lovely escape.