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.