Aug 8, 2017

Yotsuba&!

Volume 2
by Kiyohiko Azuma

Cute, spunky kid. She doesn't get some ordinary things, puzzles at the meaning of big words. Eager for fun every day. There's an episode in here where she goes off with the older girls from next door to draw at the park. I liked that. There was an oh-so-familiar incident where Yotsuba insists the other girls tell her if her drawing is good- because of course her dad always says so. One of them is bluntly honest and says no, it's bad. The other girl of course doesn't want to hurt Yotsuba's feelings - so then Yotsuba is convinced one of them is lying! Because her art can't be both good and bad, can it? Yotsuba tries to draw a picture of Jumbo but it runs off the paper onto the table. So to make it properly big she draws out on the street.

She insists on having cake with the neighbors. She is left to her own devices when her dad is sleeping off an all-nighter. Ends up drawing on his face with marker, and then is terrified at the possible repercussions. There's almost just as much in here about the neighbor family as there is about Yotsuba- I'm starting to wonder what the story is behind the always-absent father, I suppose the backstory will be revealed eventually... They all go to the pool, and find out that neither Jumbo, Koiwai (Yotsuba's dad) or Fuka can swim. Yotsuba endeavors to teach them- hilarious. Turns out Jumbo really likes Asagi- the oldest girl next door- who is rather a tease (to her siblings).

Yotsuba tries to catch frogs and Miura (friend of the youngest neighbor) objects. We find out that Yotsuba is terrified of a bull's-eye thing that is in someone's yard (it looks like a target to me, but it's used to frighten away birds). Miura uses this against her in what turns into a uproarious fight- a teddy bear is the main casualty.

Slightly-disturbing episode in here where Yotsuba watches a gangster movie on tv with her dad and Jumbo. Then she immediately grabs her water pistol and goes off on a 'mission of revenge' in the neighborhood. The girls next door play along- to some extent. You could see this as a suggestion that violence on tv causes the same in kids' behavior, or just showing her having some good old pretend fun. This episode was in the beginning of the book, and on the last page Asagi comes home from a trip, finding Yotsuba's drawing of Jumbo on the pavement outside- which if you don't know the origins, looks rather like the outline of a murdered body. She stares. I couldn't help it, I laughed out loud.

I still don't quite know why Yotsuba's hair is green- but found out that her name includes the word 'four' and her hair is always tied into two short pigtails- reminiscent of a four-leaf clover. There's a brief part in here about something in the past between Asagi and her mom over four-leaf clovers. I'm delighted to find there are some twenty volumes of Yotsuba&! Must look up how many are actually in my library system.

Rating: 3/5                 192 pages, 2004

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