A terrifically told story with striking design and illustrations that will empower its readers.




A lengthy picture book about a female ninja in 16th-century Japan.

Mochizuki Chiyome lives in the Koga region of feudal Japan, where constant warfare between warlords called daimyos creates the need for both samurais and ninjas. Chiyome’s great-grandfather was a famous ninja, and she is training to be one too. Her arduous preparation includes dangling from a cliff as well as more subtle skills, such as hensojutsu, the art of disguise. After years of training, she becomes a ninja only to be married off to Mochizuki Moritoki, the nephew of a powerful daimyo. When her husband is killed in battle, Chiyome—whose choices as a widow are either taking care of other women’s children or retreating to a spiritual life—convinces her uncle-in-law to take advantage of her ninja skills. She recruits and trains a network of female ninjas to spy for him. Kyi’s bracing text (based on some real historical figures, as revealed in an epilogue) gives a vivid sense of detail and danger, although it’s too bad the illustrated map of 16th-century feudal Japan does not clearly mark the locations referenced in the story. The book’s design is otherwise stellar. Japanese landscape paintings bordered with stylized patterns combine smoothly with Krampien’s bold, emotive illustrations, heightening the overall ambience and tone of the story.

A terrifically told story with striking design and illustrations that will empower its readers. (glossary, further reading, sources) (Picture book. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-966-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Overall, the stories are engaging and inspiring, from the tribulations that came upon Emancipation to the strange new world...



From the On a Day Story Voyages series , Vol. 3

Brief fictional sketches walk readers through 150 years of American history.

Arato takes nine powerful slices of American history—such as Valley Forge, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Gold Rush, the founding of the Perkins School for the Blind and Berea College, Hull House, the Johnstown Flood—and wraps them in neat, emotive, unvarnished stories that feature a day in the life of a child caught up in the action. Shannon introduces each segment with an atmospheric illustration, Disney-like scene-setters that function as launching pads for the affecting tales. One may be as plain as the miseries of war—“The Union army regrouped at Bull Run under a pall of defeat so thick, it seemed to suck the air from the sky”—while another may take a more psychological air, as one boy hides a gold nugget so his father can’t gamble it away. Only rarely does the author let the sheer fervor of the story lead her onto shaky ground: Did the Oneida Nation really consider the Revolutionary War as “our cause,” or as a strategic alliance? (She clarifies in a fact-based endnote—one accompanies each chapter—that the Oneidas were ultimately given the raw end of the stick, their treaty lands diminished from 6 million acres to 32 acres.)

Overall, the stories are engaging and inspiring, from the tribulations that came upon Emancipation to the strange new world opened to Chinese workers recruited for the Transcontinental Railroad to the pure brilliance of a school for the blind. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-926818-91-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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A visual delight for the culturally savvy.



Seven generations of a family in a communal apartment lead readers through 100 years of Russian history.

First published in Russia as Istoriia Staroi Kvartiry (2016), this story tracks the fictional Muromstev family from its move into the apartment in 1902 to a birthday celebration in 2002, covering major political and personal events within that time period. Double-page, diary-style spreads generally alternate between an intimate look into the apartment, with one of the current generation’s children narrating events both personal and political, and a more objective examination of the history experienced. These pages tend to be crowded with labeled illustrations of household objects, conversations among characters, and collaged-in archival images. Endpapers are plastered, scrapbook-style, with photographs and document clippings, and family trees are helpfully included prior to and following the story proper. Extensive backmatter provides further cultural elucidation. While readers might at first be skeptical of what appears to be a glorified house tour, the triumphs and tribulations of the family quickly become engrossing thanks to Litvina’s conversational, emotive text. Desnitskaya’s simple cartoon illustrations easily distinguish the many characters, although time skips of up to 12 years can make it difficult to discern who’s still alive. Readers unfamiliar with Russian might also have trouble pronouncing character names; conversely, readers who can read the language will enjoy perusing the newspaper articles and song lyrics scattered throughout. Characters are all white presenting, but the Muromstev clan includes Jewish and Georgian family members.

A visual delight for the culturally savvy. (author’s note, glossary, timeline, bibliography, index) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3403-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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