Yotsuba is a little girl whose name means "four-leaf clover" - and the name fits her very well (note the four little ponytails in her bright green hair). We meet her as she and her father are moving to a new town from somewhere that must be very rural, as Yotsuba is unfamiliar with playground equipment, doorbells and air conditioning, among other things.
She is an irrepressible little kid, who reminds me in many ways of Ramona and Clementine - she is a free thinker, can easily get the wrong impression from something someone says, then run in an unexpected direction with it, with hilarious results. The book has many laugh-out-loud moments, yet is touching and, at times, bittersweet. My library places this series in the YA section, but the humor and story would definitely be accessible to much younger children. In fact, I was reading this one in the car during a long drive, and my giggles kept my 7 and 9yo girls wondering about what I was reading. The 7yo is halfway through it now and is loving it!
Yotsuba's father is very funny, and he gets himself into some amusing situations, too. But he is also a compassionate man who is able to accept Yotsuba's quirky nature and appreciate her for being exactly who she is. This opening volume also introduces us to their new neighbors, three sisters who each fall under Yotsuba's spell in one way or another. What a delightful beginning to a series. I can't wait to see what happens next!
Books reviewed in the Yotsuba&! series so far:
Yotsuba&!, Vol. 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma (ADV Manga, 2005)
Also reviewed at:
Aleph Naught and the Null Set