by Kiyohiko Azuma
Back home from camping, Yotsuba wants to give ‘souvenirs’ from her trip to Asagi- but they’re odd things like a stick she found in the woods, and a giant pinecone. Asagi is surprised, but gracious about it. Yotsuba convinces Fuuka to take her to a park with a sandbox- where her make-believe games really bemuse the older girl. The younger friends she meets up with play right along. The main event, which takes up most of the book, is a visit from her Grandma. At first it seems her grandmother is rather tight-lipped and stern- “Grandma has an angry face, but she’s not angry! It’s just that way!” she explains to one of her friends. As the story progresses you see she really does have a kind heart and cares for Yotsuba. She teaches Yotsuba some cooking and cleaning skills, and the names of birds they see on walks. Yotsuba tries her best to be a good helper and meet with Grandma’s approval, although it is hard for her and she throws a few tantrums when things don’t go her way. In the end, Grandma has to leave much sooner than Yotsuba would like. She has difficulty dealing with that as well, but Koiwai and his mother calmly handle her outburst. Such dear people.
I’m sad this is the last Yotsuba book available. It’s been a lot of fun. I like this series better than Bunny Drop– there’s none of that drifting into uncomfortable territory as the kid grows up. Yotsuba is a lot more lighthearted, and more focused on simply what it’s like to be a kid- meeting everything with enthusiasm, expecting life to be good, making up funny connections and explanations for things. Yotsuba’s motto: enjoy everything!
Rating: 3/5 224 pages, 2015