cover image Nori


Rumi Hara. Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 trade paper (228p) ISBN 978-1-77046-397-4

Kyoto-born, Brooklyn-based cartoonist Hara evokes the wonder of childhood, with equal parts precision and whimsy, in this meticulously observed debut. Noriko “Nori” Iwasaki, a rambunctious, imaginative little girl, spends her days in 1980s suburban Japan with her Grandmother while her parents are at work. She chases magical rabbits across her preschool’s playfield, explores the neighborhood’s ditches and shopping district, celebrates at festivals, plays with sassy local kids and the varied urban wildlife that hide around every shrub, and, in the book’s longest sequence, vacations in Hawaii on a trip won at a fair. The world of adults hums away in the background, still healing from WWII; old-timers reminisce about wartime privations, and the Hawaii escapade is held up as “a symbol of peace and revival” by the neighborhood business association. But Hara always returns to Nori’s private world, masterfully immersing the reader in a small child’s perception, cramming panels with Richard Scarry–like ramshackle houses and busy gardens, irresistible fantasy sequences, and details—an ice cream advertisement, fish swimming in a tidal pool—a preschooler would light on. Nori and her playmates are sketched in loose lines with pitch-perfect body language. These satisfying sunny adventures succeed at being specific to their time and place while tapping into a sense of collective young memory, leaving the reader lighter and nostalgic. [em](May) [/em]