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Sumo Paperback – December 11, 2012
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You certainly wouldn’t expect a graphic novel about sumo wrestling, the very physical definition of excess in mass and irresistible force, to be as thoughtfully understated as Pham’s first complete work (he drew Gene Luen Yang’s Level Up, 2011, with aplomb). Yet . . . Reeling from both a bad breakup and the failure to make it in the NFL, Scott heads to Japan to begin a career as a rikishi (sumo wrestler). Now an outsider struggling to master the art and culture of his new calling, itself a dying tradition, he finds he can’t outrun the crisis of coming-of-age, though help comes from the friendship-plus of his coach’s daughter. With a simple drawing style that gets a great boost from effective single-tone coloring, Pham uses blocky figures and symbolic nods to convey the graceful contradictions in size and speed, strength and small gestures that make sumo as much an art form as a sport. There is a gemlike simplicity in the deeply personal yet reserved story of Scott’s fruition, and a reminder to never mistake quiet for small. Grades 9-12. --Ian Chipman
"Here is a gemlike simplicity in the deeply personal yet reserved story of Scott’s fruition, and a reminder to never mistake quiet for small."―Booklist
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It also doesn't hurt that there are some fantatically genuine moments that ring so true. The kind where you see yourself and your friends or loved ones fitting right alongside the characters. Laughing aloud at subtle and not-so-subtle quips between friends.
Perfect gift. Great with a cup of tea.
The book didn't really do for me what I had hope it would do. It is not so much actually about the art of Sumo, as it is about the main character Scott, now called Hakygei. A failed football player in a small town whose girlfriend dumps him when he's no longer being scouted. 18yo Scott decides to leave his old life behind and start anew, in a new country, with a new goal: Sumo and to create something of himself. It is a coming-of-age tale. Scott always found football easy and he's now finding Sumo hard, something he really has to work at. He's thought of giving up, taking the easy way out again, but he's met a girl, who believes in him more than anyone (including himself) ever has before. This is a slow story. I suppose comparisons between it and Sumo could be made but I don't know anything about Sumo so can't make that connection. And that is my only complaint with the book; I would have like to have actually learned how Sumo is played, scored, how the gracefulness despite the immense size of the participants is accounted for, it's allure, etc.
Pham is just such a genuine, delicate storyteller. The art complements the mood of the book perfectly. My husband and I barely discussed this book after we read it, because all we could do was look at each other and say "Whoa. That was REALLY good." (This is why we don't do video reviews. You're welcome.)
Aiko! My girl.
You are a princess and star.
As it is fundamental.
And responsibly at all times.
Why are you not sleeping elephant?
Over the following toys?
That's on the side of the ball.
In tennis, he plays the game.
Barbie doll is that it?
You did not learn again?
You certainly grown.
Interests and deeds.
Love you always ballet.
The violin is not even dispute.
"Dance Lesson", the Degas.
After all, harmony is complex.
That model fashioned.
The robot in the future is beautiful.
Planetarium you love.
Sports always your dreams.
Why do you love?
Personality sing whole.