Little Kunoichi’s dazzling pet inspires Chibi Samurai’s quest for his own.
Ninja Bunny is awesome. Audacious and strong, the rabbit and Little Kunoichi are inseparable. Wanting a similar snuggly friend, Chibi Samurai gears up and sets out. Across mountains, forest, and swamp the intrepid boy greets Japanese creatures, both mythic and real (giant salamander, mischievous kappa, hot-spring–loving monkeys!), but none stay. Dejected, Chibi returns home to find a loyal and mighty stag beetle has been with him all along. Ishida seamlessly weaves Japanese cultural references into the text and art, integrating traditional clothing, decor, games, and even a haiku into the tale. Backmatter explains these visual cues, adding to the seek-and-find fun on many pages. Watercolor illustrations are reminiscent of Taro Gomi’s, with their appealing, earnest simplicity. Like a child’s artwork, they have a spontaneity, a fizzy energy, that’s never labored. Despite this appearance, each page is meticulously planned. Unfortunately, the stag beetle may seem like an obvious play for Kubo fans, and the front-cover design doesn’t capture the vivacity of its contents; however, if readers only turn the page, a playful adventure awaits.
Young readers will love returning to find hidden treasures among these pages—a delightful romp. (Picture book. 3-7)