Debut picture-book author DaCosta pens the quietly suspenseful quest of a ninja on a late-night mission…to the kitchen!
Succinct language full of vivid verbs describing the action sets the mood for Young’s lushly textured illustrations composed with cut paper, cloth, string and colored pencil. “The clock struck midnight…” and a grappling hook appears on the page turn, followed by a nimble and stealthy figure in black ably navigating every obstacle in his path. Climbing and clambering, balancing and leaping, he finally reaches his goal. Just as the ninja takes out his tools and goes to work, “Suddenly the lights flash on!” On this spread, the dusky hues and patterns utilized up to this point vanish to show an imposing hand-on-hip towering black silhouette against a glaringly bright, white background. Of course it turns out to be the child’s mother catching her little one with a spoon stuck into what appears to be a chocolate-flavored treat. With the mission for a sweet snack aborted, mother proposes, “how about a getting-back-into-bed mission?”
This relatively gentle tale celebrating the power of imagination fails to cover new territory but is executed quite well. Good to share at bedtime with antsy adventurers but too subdued a choice for die-hard Ninjago fans. (Picture book. 3-5)