Monday, September 21, 2009

Manga Monday: Happy Happy Clover

Happy Happy Clover (Volume 1)
Sayuri Tatsuyama
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With each new book I sample from Viz's VizKids line of manga for children, the more impressed I get. They really do offer a nice selection of manga for kids (like Leave It To Pet! and Dinosaur Hour, not to mention Cowa! which they didn't publish as a part of VizKids). Happy Happy Clover is another example of quality manga available for kids through this line. It's much cuter and more sugary than the types of books I usually read, but I definitely see the appeal, especially for very young kids. The book is about a group of animals who live in Crescent Forest: rabbits, squirrels, deer, foxes, etc. They live happily together in a nice little community, and the forest makes for a nice playground for the adventurous little bunny Clover, who treks all over the woods with her friends in tow, causing mischief in some form or another. But she means well, and has a guilty conscience should she ever unintentionally hurt someone's feelings. I like how the little vignettes tell a nice, simple entertaining story, but also have a sort of message in it, a shining example of morals for a child to follow. In that way, Clover is a role model for any child who picks this up. But unlike many stories I have read that spend time trying to force morals down kids' throats that come off heavy-handed and preachy (yes, I'm talking to you, Little Women, despite your status as a classic), Happy Happy Clover is subtle about the example it sets, and you come to admire the way that Clover solves her problems and thinks about what she's done, rather than have it told outright that she proceeded in the correct manner. I don't want to make too much out of this, because at the end of the day, it's cute floppy-eared bunnies prancing around a forest, but I think this is the perfect sort of book to put in the hands of a young child interested in comics, particularly girls. This book is full of great characters (like the flying squirrel Hickory and the sextuplet baby bunnies) and has a fun, whimsical feel to it that reminds me of Winnie-the-Pooh or better yet, Maya the Bee. Plus, this volume includes a page of stickers, and at the end of each chapter, there's a fun bonus excerpt from "Clover's Fun Doodle Pad" that's usually humorous and cute, following up on events that have recently taken place. This book is just highly entertaining and while it may be a little too "hyper" for some manga fans, I'm sure it will amuse the little ones to no end.

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