The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear

David Bruins, illus. by Hilary Leung. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55453-486-9
This comic book—style story features three amiable characters who challenge each other to a series of contests only to realize that "no one had to be the best. They were each special and unique—just like you and me." Leung's action-filled, brightly-colored illustrations, which have a burnished, wood-grain quality, seem ready-made for animation. With style and humor, the collaborators show how the bear's strength allows him to build a higher rock pile than the ninja, the cowboy's "precision and accuracy" allows him to pick more raspberries than the bear, and the ninja's agility allows him to catch more rabbits than the cowboy. The simple story about accepting one's gifts also provides the basis for a game featuring the three characters, which is described at the end of the book. A variation of "rock-paper-scissors," the game does not rely on hand signals, but encourages children to use full body play as "ninja beats cowboy," "cowboy beats bear," and "bear beats ninja" (an online version of the game is also available, but seems like scant fun compared to striking bear and ninja poses). Ages 4—7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/19/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
Genre: Children's
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