Yotsuba&! Vol. 1
by Kiyohiko Azuma
(ADV, 2005)

Yotsuba&! is the latest work from Kiyohiko Azuma. Like his earlier work, Azumanga Daioh, it's an inviting, all-ages book, but Yotsuba&! turns from high school to preschool to follow the green-haired, multi-pigtailed star Yotsuba through the adventures of early childhood.

The first volume follows Yotsuba's adventures with moving, rain, manners, cicadas and everything she can uncover along the way. It also introduces the mainstays of Yotsuba's world: her laidback father; her family's enormous friend Jumbo, who proclaims himself a relation to roaring giraffes; and the neighboring household of three bemused sisters and their mother, who find themselves powerless before Yotsuba's unending enthusiasm.

But describing what Yotsuba is about is as effective as saying Winnie the Pooh is about a boy and his stuffed animals. Yotsuba's world is one of soft curves and open smiles, drawn with a light, inviting touch. Her adventures all take place in suburban Japan instead of a pastel fantasy world, but Yotsuba's energy and cheer finds the fantastic in everything.

Charming to read and look at, Yotsuba&! is an entertaining story perfect for reading to your children -- or yourself.

by Sarah Meador
8 October 2005

Buy it from Amazon.com.