Nori by Rumi Hara [in Booklist]
In this delightful, already Ignatz-nominated debut by Japan-born, Brooklyn-based Rumi Hara, 3-year-old Nori is cared for by her grandmother (who can’t always keep up) while both parents work. Each of these six adventurous shorts features a contrasting single color overlaid on otherwise black-and-white panels, capturing the incorrigibly energetic Nori’s exploits.
The opening, salmon-tinted chapter sets the tone for expectations: Nori is young enough that she still demands to be carried even as her grandmother tires, then carelessly bold enough to run off alone, causing a trail of worried tears. In preschool, her impish, disruptive exploits are tinted in orange. In other chapters, Nori discovers “Creatures of a Ditch” in a shallow waterway (with aqua highlights), meets a mythical “expeditioner” (in blue), and makes a kite while Mommy is sick (in rose).
The longest (and single color-mismatched) chapter – introduced with a salmon chapter page but enhanced throughout in brown – is also the collection’s highlight, presenting a raffle-won Nori-and-Grandma trip to Hawaii.
Amidst the innocent fun, Hara skillfully inserts possible challenges ahead – aging caregivers, overworked parents, family dysfunction, bullying, even homelessness – to create enlightening entertainment.