A young ninja shows off some skills for school.
Ninjas are good at silently rising before the sun. They are nimble and strong, with the balance of a flamingo “(but without looking silly)”—though the illustration belies this, as all the kids at the bus stop are laughing. They can be “one with their surroundings.” This last pictures the boy, in ninja black, plastered to the ceiling of the bus. Light on plot, but so far, so good. But then Wilson’s ninja takes a disturbing turn. “A ninja must be still and patient, like a deep-rooted tree….” On the left, Harrison’s vibrantly colored illustration shows the ninja sitting primly in class. But on the right, the text reads, “…and strike with the VIPER’S speed when the time is right for disappearing.” The ninja is now sneaking out the classroom window while the teacher’s back is turned. The verso reveals “A ninja’s spirit is never caged.” Freedom is not long-lived, as the teacher catches up to the ninja on the playground, and the principal sends him home, with seriously angry looks all around. His parents put away his ninja things, but regardless, the boy knows he is a ninja, as his shadow proudly reflects. Other poor examples include the precarious stack he climbs to reach the “ninja stuf” and the gray-haired granny bus driver sporting earbuds.
A book for those who see school as a prison to be escaped; this is about as strongly anti-school as a picture book gets. (Picture book. 5-7)