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Sand Chronicles, Vol. 2


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About the Author

Hinako Ashihara won the 50th Shogakukan Manga Award for Sunadokei
(Sand Chronicles). She debuted with Sono hanashi okotowari shimasu in Bessatsu Shojo Comics in 1994. Her other works include SOS, Forbidden Dance, Ten-nen Bitter Chocolate.


Gr 8 Up-After her parents' divorce, 12-year-old Ann and her mother move from Tokyo to the country to live with her grandmother. Shortly thereafter Ann's mother, plagued by depression and a drinking problem, kills herself. Ann finds comfort in her new friends Fuji and Daigo. By age 14, she has developed a huge crush on Daigo and become closer to Fuji, who has caught his philandering mother with another man. The teen worries about her period, which stopped right after her mother died. This is a sensitive story about the passing of time and the many rites of passage of adolescence. The characters are drawn with flowing lines and luminous eyes, adding to the book's wistful, contemplative tone.-Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In this standout shojo manga, 12-year-old Ann Uekusa and her mother have been abandoned by Ann's debt-ridden father and forced to move from Tokyo to Ann's grandparents' home in Shimane. At first, Ann feels both oppressed by her mean grandmother and totally out of place in a small town, but once she makes some friends she adapts quickly. When her disillusioned and demoralized mother commits suicide, Ann leans on Daigo, the first boy her own age that she met in Shimane, and their budding romance becomes the story's focus. The book's second half jumps ahead 18 months to a summer camp where Ann deals with a rival scheming for Daigo's affections. Ashihara deals sensitively with her characters' emotions, giving the book a measure of depth and subtlety amid the expected shojo elements (expressionistic backgrounds, romantic complications, and occasional silly bits of business). Her artwork has improved markedly since her earlier series Forbidden Dance, with more delicate lines and more attractive, better-proportioned figures. Rated for older teens by Viz (a subplot concerns Ann's period, and there's one sexual situation involving adults), this ten-volume, true-to-life series is recommended for all collections.--S.R. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Delicate mood and generous empathy help this teen-girl romance cross cultural boundaries. Twelve-year-old Ann feels disoriented when her newly divorced mother leaves Tokyo and moves back to her village and less-than-sympathetic parents. Ann has trouble adjusting to rural culture-where, for example, cute wild bunnies are not pets but food. However, the townspeople, especially rabbit-hunting young Daigo, offer Ann friendship and support after her mother commits suicide. As they go to summer camp with other young teenagers two years later, Ann and Daigo still are close, but Ann worries about losing him to a rival while she also obsesses about when she'll begin having regular periods. Some of the plot complications are predictable, such as lonely rich-kid Fuji beginning to cast yearning glances at Ann, and some of the characters' concerns may seem trivial to grownups. But Ashihara's art is quietly lovely, especially winter scenes with the air swirling with snowflakes or when a summer night is full of fireflies. Her script treats all the characters with gentle respect. The translation ignores differences in regional dialects, missing some clumsiness in conversations, but this manga still succeeds in showing the delight as well as the awkwardness of developing relationships. (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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