From the Tiny Ninja Books series , Vol. 1

Entertaining writing and appealing illustrations encourage kids to tap into their resources.

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A boy channels his inner Ninja for courage and motivation in this debut picture book.

Milo is a young, active white boy with tons of energy—except in the morning. When he wakes up, he snuggles deeper into his bed, “a glorious cocoon of warm, cozy goodness,” and imagines staying there forever. Getting to school is a battle. But ever since he was 3 years old, Milo has had an “awesome” Tiny Ninja companion, a masked figure just like himself who is brave, considerate, and strong. One night, Milo’s mom asks him to be on time the next morning, because she has an important meeting. He agrees, but when he wakes, he stays under the covers. Tiny Ninja comes to the rescue. Milo’s companion gets the boy ready for school in no time, making the child’s mother proud. Tiny Ninja assures Milo he’ll always be with him. Throughout, several full-spread illustrations invite readers to find the hidden Ninjas, allowing them to practice attention to detail. In her series opener, Graham uses the tiny but fierce Ninja as a clever metaphor for the duller-sounding concepts of responsibility and growing up. Also enlivening is the author’s amusing narration, as when Milo avoids fault by pretending: “I’m a helpless dinosaur. The tar pits are sucking me in!” The pastel images by Valieva (The Can Be Book, 2018) are alive with personality, incident, and detail, especially in the search-for-Ninjas pages.

Entertaining writing and appealing illustrations encourage kids to tap into their resources.

Pub Date: April 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64237-467-4

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2019


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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