Dressed in black and ready for action, a young ninja shows off his skills—which would be more impressive if he did not initially use them to antagonize.
Tuell uses chopped (forgive the pun) rhyming phrases perfect for young ears and new readers as a redheaded ninja practices his stealthy skills: “Hip, hop, slide… / …flip, flop, kick. // Little Ninja, / very quick.” But a yellow-haired younger brother is the unhappy target of all the ninja’s nefarious missions. His balloon is taken away, his chocolate-chip cookie stolen and his castle of building blocks knocked down. Finally, a frustrated cry of “NINJA, NINJA, / WOULD YOU STOP?” results in an unconvincingly instantaneous change of heart. The following spread shows the siblings happily rebuilding. It seems the story has come to a close, but a page turn reveals the ninja playing outside and about to dive into a pile of autumn leaves—where a pair of pale blue eyes peeks out. With his triumphant ambush of the ninja, the younger brother clearly enjoys the comeuppance. All ends well as the final pages show both brothers planning and scheming as a “NINJA TEAM!” Bright primary hues add an energetic yet retro feel to Carpenter’s illustrations.
Although a bit slim on story, still a good choice for mischievous preschoolers with an interest in the martial arts. (Picture book. 3-5)