When Little Kunoichi gets bored during the summer, she’s sent to her ninja grandma, who leads them on an adventure of the heart and mind in this intergenerational tale.
It’s summer, and even though they live in a supersecret ninja village, Little Kunoichi and Bunny are bored. The pigtailed girl’s solution is a long wish list of material toys to break the doldrums. In response, she’s sent to Ba-chan’s (her jack-of-all-trades, kooky, creative grandma) for the rest of the summer. Fantastical adventure awaits, as they travel to Ba-chan’s underwater amusement park, full of fun, slyly referential rides (the World Bank Arcade, the Cha-Ching Train, etc.); but Kunoichi soon learns that it’s a person’s inner magic—“Curiosity, / Resourcefulness, kindness, love, / Imagination!”—that makes life interesting. Water-based illustrations done in a primary palette are delightfully appealing, and Ishida’s playful vignettes, full of hidden gems and cultural references, beg for repeat visits. Applied in simple washes, the detailed brushwork highlights the artist’s control of intricate shapes and patterning. Text and art display a playful spontaneity; however, at times the storytelling becomes a bit too loose. That said, Ishida excels at creating a fascinating world that combines the real (ninja water spider shoes!) and imaginative, and Kunoichi is a charismatic heroine with heart and gumption that parents and children can celebrate.
Delightful. (Picture book. 4-8)