Cakes and Pies are at war with each other. Their weapons of choice are arrows that hurtle back and forth on a battlefield. Tiered cakes roll elegantly on roller skates, while pies skitter on short, roachlike legs. Cookies and cupcakes are minor players on the battlefield, sawing each other in half. There’s a lot of carnage here. And it’s all delicious.

“Cake Vs. Pie” is one of several wordless vignettes in Andrea Tsurumi’s Why Would You Do That? Taken alone, these pieces are a little scattered and inconsistent, like a joke somebody started to tell before getting interrupted and losing momentum. As a whole, however, there’s evidence of a humorous and artistic visionary at work.

In a piece called “Do You Know How to Eat Ramen?” Tsurumi’s first instructions are: “Wait until it’s cold outside and the part that lives inside you has gotten small and scared.” After you cut this part out of you and set it aside, it becomes the crucial ingredient to the ramen and gets added to your luckiest ramen bowl, floating atop noodles and broth. Tsurumi draws this part of us as almost like a prime rib with puppy eyes: it’s equal parts cute and disgusting. “The noodles wrap around its center, like an electric blanket, filling and warming what previously felt like a numb fist.” As the part of us begins to eat ramen, it transforms into a sated frog-like creature with ramen noodles dripping out of its mouth. “And that’s how you eat ramen!”

Other pieces don’t carry a narrative as well. For example, in a piece called “Yup/Nope”, Tsurumi draws what appears to be a dolphin jousting with a narwhal while lizards who look like they have Swiss cheese lodged in their mouths and other unearthly creatures cheer on the televised event.

Were Tsurumi to publish a children’s graphic novel, I’d be ready to hand it to this generation of readers who enjoy Edward Gorey illustrations. I’ll be watching to see if such a book is in the works.

Why Would You Do That?
by Andrea Tsurumi
ISBN: 9781681481029
Hic and Hoc, 2016

  • Amy Estersohn

    | She/Her Past Reviewer

    Amy Estersohn is a seventh grade English teacher at Hommocks Middle School in Larchmont, NY and the inheritor of a large classroom library. She has always been struck by the ability of graphic novels to convey a story that transcends written language alone. That story can be for developing readers, such as the time a five-year-old saw her reading Akira on the subway and snuggled next to her, insisting he “read” along, or it can be for proficient readers who want to explore a topic in more emotional depth, such as Don Brown’s depiction of a post-Katrina New Orleans in Drowned City. She holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MA from Columbia University’s Teachers College.

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