An upbeat tale of a superachiever first published in English in 1987 as First Comes Harry, newly retranslated by Hajimeni.
The nameless protagonist, a boy, is the first to wake up, get dressed, brush his teeth, eat breakfast, leap out the door, jump over a trash can and run up a slide. He is the first to fall down and cry, but he’s also the first to laugh. He is the first to argue, the first to make up, and the first to march and do a handstand. His frantically busy day tires him out, so naturally, he is the first to finish dinner and the first to fall asleep. One of many older books by Japanese author-illustrator Gomi to be recently retranslated into English, this is a good example of how well they stand the test of time. The understated flat wash style with naïvely rendered figures, lack of perspective and simple shapes is instantly appealing to the youngest children, even if they can’t read yet. On some pages, the washes of flat color sometimes seem too large and uninteresting for the content; conceivably these illustrations would be better suited to a smaller format similar to Gomi’s board books.
On balance, the book is original and refreshingly lacking in sugary cuteness—a keeper indeed. (Picture book. 2-4)