On a “super secret island” in a “super super secret village,” a ninja girl in training, Little Kunoichi, is struggling at school. Newcomer Ishida draws plenty of humor out of Little Kunoichi’s situation: “Should have worn the black one,” reads a caption next to an image of Little Kunoichi standing against a brick wall while wearing a not-so-stealthy magenta ninja uniform (even her pet rabbit remembered to wear a black one). But Ishida’s playful narrative and folk art–like paintings convey significant empathy for Little Kunoichi, never having too much fun at her expense (even when she hits a wild boar with a shuriken, instead of her target). Working with Chibi Samurai, a boy whose studies are proving similarly daunting, the children shugyo (train “like crazy”) to put on a showstopping performance at the Island Festival. Capping a warm, funny, and encouraging story line about the value of hard work and dedication, Ishida includes an array of information in the endnotes, expanding on references in the text and art to sumo wrestling, ninja training, and other aspects of Japanese language and culture. Ages 3–7. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/06/2015 Release date: 05/05/2015 Genre: Children's
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