Kunoichi Bunny

Sara Cassidy, illus. by Brayden Sato. Orca, $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4598-2780-6

In this spare, largely wordless picture book that utilizes a paneled comics format, city scenes proceed cinematically as a pigtailed child, dark-haired and light-skinned, saves the day using a stuffed, Miffy-esque bunny named Kunoichi—Japanese for female ninja. Cassidy’s (The Moon Is a Silver Pond) only text is the child’s repeated call for their largely oblivious bespectacled parent to retrieve the stuffy after its escapades, which include stopping an infant’s rolling stroller and cheering up an elderly bus mate. Onomatopoeia also appears: “PEEP!” reads one page, as the child spies a chick in distress below a storm grate. Kunoichi is slipped between the grate’s bars ears first, allowing the young bird to pull itself up. “PLOP,” reads the next page, as the chick is deposited onto the grass. After the bird snuggles Kunoichi (a red heart appears overhead), a “HONK” signifies its reunion with its parent. In his picture book debut, Sato (Father of the Witchborn, for adults) employs pencil art, finished digitally, in a cool-toned palette of indigo and salmon, particularly excelling at portraying dynamic, animation-like characters of varying ability, age, religion, and skin tone from a range of angles, and allowing easy visualization of the protagonist’s thought process through storyboard-like panels. Ages 3–5. (Mar.)
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