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Rumi Hara's NORI: In stores now

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My favorite release day blog posts are the books that we acquired via our submissions email. Yes, we read every submission that is emailed to us! Rumi Hara emailed us shortly before Christmas 2017 with a brief email and a dropbox link and the following description: "The title of the story is Nori, which is a nickname for Noriko, a three-year-old girl living in Japan in 1986. The story is about Nori and her grandma." Needless to say, this is a very short, humble description of NORI. NORI is so much more.

Noriko is a headstrong little girl who is babysat by her grandmother while her parents are at work. The 1980s Osaka suburbs are a fertile playground for the three-year-old, and Nori's imagination turns her surroundings into a magical fantasy world where anything can happen.

NORI touches on folklore and Japanese culture. In the chapter "Nori and the Creatures of the Ditch," we see Nori, her grandmother and neighbors prepare for the Bon festival, which is a Buddhist custom in August that honors the spirits of one's ancestors, and the Bon Odori dance that happens at community events during this time.

The escapades in NORI are universal, though, it will make anyone nostalgic for their childhood where they got dirty; quarrelled with older kids; ran off from their caretakers;

And chased animals! Nori exists before the internet, Nintendo is mentioned in passing. Nori chases rabbits, turtles, dogs which is sadly ironic to write as my kids have been talking about Animal Crossing this entire quarantine.

When she had sent her submission, Rumi had completed a few minicomics that would eventually comprise NORI that rightfully had already been nominated for an Ignatz Award as well as having won a silver medal at the MoCCA Arts Festival. And the minis in and of themselves are objects to behold, striking with a gorgeous sense of colour. NORI has already recevied a starred review from Publishers Weekly spotlighting that the "Kyoto-born, Brooklyn-based cartoonist Hara evokes the wonder of childhood, with equal parts precision and whimsy, in this meticulously observed debut." I couldn't agree more and I know this is the first of many accolades for Rumi's NORI.