cover image Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop!

Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop!

Todd Tuell, illus. by Tad Carpenter. Abrams Appleseed, $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1027-8

A ninja wannabe is spooked by a big dog and has a tough time fending off Granny’s kisses, but he finds an easy mark in his adoring younger brother—until he destroys his sibling’s block tower with a “Ninja kick,/ Ninja chop!” The unseen powers that be call a halt (“Ninja, Ninja, WOULD YOU STOP?”), reconciliation is forged, and the ninja discovers that his victim is, in reality, an apt pupil. First-time author Tuell uses short, staccato rhymes to convey the stealth and surprise that is a ninja’s stock-in-trade, but the narration is so literal (“Ninja small/ Ninja large./ Ninja duck,/ Ninja charge”) that’s it’s almost unnecessary, given Carpenter’s (Zoom! Zoom!) traffic-light palette (except for the ninja, of course—he’s all in black) and bold graphics, a style that seems to draw on both contemporary animation and decorative design. The story doesn’t always leap and lunge forward like its hero—despite all the action, the “Ninja this, Ninja that” phrasings get a tad repetitive—but there’s still enough to quicken pulse of most schoolyard shinobi. Ages 2–5. (Apr.)