Nori by Rumi Hara. Drawn & Quarterly, 2020. 9781770463974
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? First published as a series of minicomics, this book features short vignettes of life with Nori, a precocious and inquisitive three-year old. Nori is mainly tended by her grandma, and the youngster and the grandmother have all sorts of slice-of-life adventures at preschool, at home, in the village, in nature and on a big trip to Hawaii together. I really liked the relationship between the two – the author gives the grandmother more personality than we often see in grandparent characters who mind the kids in western lit. Nineteen nineties Japan is depicted with affection and with occasional flights of fancy as Nori’s big imagination is given graphic reign. For example, Nori imagines she goes with the white bunny who pounds mochi on the moon, from a Japanese folktale. Besides Nori and her grandma, her friend Taichi, an equally rambunctious toddler, and her parents, there is a recurring character that fascinated me: a mysterious man in a full length robe who parades through the streets with a traditional rhythm instrument, a taiko. It turns out that he is a neighborhood homeless person wearing a blanket. Nori often takes to following him, becoming lost and causing all sorts of worry at home. He lends a mystical air to the story, as the reader wonders when he will surface again. The episodic chapters each have a different second color with the black and white art, and this lends the book an almost retro flair.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For readers ages 12 and up who enjoy gentle, atmospheric graphic novels of the current day, such as Umma’s Table by Yeon-sik Hong and works by Lucy Knisley.
Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Adult or teen graphic novels
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library
Date of review: June 3, 2020