Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Ninja! Book Poster Image
Boy ninja uses skills to get milk and cookies.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids get information about ninjas, what they do, and what their needs are. And, since the text is written something like a how-to, kids might talk about other roles they're interested in and what the needs of those jobs are.

Positive Messages

Older siblings can help younger siblings and teach them things. For example, when we want to dress up or pretend, we can find the things we need lying around the house.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though the young boy scarfs his little sister’s snack, it’s all in good ninja fun, and he redeems himself by playing with her and teaching her "the way of the ninja" at the end.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ninja! is an action-packed story for young ninjas-in-training. The deadpan text describing the needs of a ninja contrasts with exaggerated stealth depicted in the illustrations, in which a little boy outfits himself as a ninja, using things he finds around the house, then sneaks off on a mission to capture his little sister's milk and cookies. There's lots of fun in the art as the ninja outwits the family dog, pounces on his napping dad, and creeps up on his little sister. When he makes her cry, he shows remorse and resolves to teach her "the way of the ninja."

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What's the story?

NINJA! uses amusingly dry text to detail the needs and demands of a ninja ("A Ninja needs a thick ninja stick, silent ninja footwear…") in contrast with action-packed illustrations to create a fun, suspenseful story of a young ninja on a stealth mission to capture his little sister's snack of milk and cookies. We see him outfitting himself with a tie from his dad's closet, procuring his ninja stick from the pool table, and his (dishwashing) ninja gloves from the kitchen counter. He "sneaks, creeps, tumbles, hides, and is fast on his feet" as he steals through the house, outwitting the family dog and using the element of surprise as he jumps on his napping dad. Though he does succeed in snatching his little sister's snack, she wails, alerting their mom, and our young ninja is dishonored. He redeems himself by playing with his little sister and teaching her "the way of the ninja."

Is it any good?

Ninja! is lots of fun. Young readers who like their picture books action-packed will get lots of satisfaction watching the little ninja sneak through the darkened house on his stealthy mission. Single pages of action-packed panels alternate with full-page spreads. The little ninja is amusingly spindly legged and is clearly and cleverly outfitted in items found around the house.

Though it’s an action story, there’s a sweetness to it, too. He just wants milk and cookies, and he feels remorse ("dishonor") when he makes his sister cry. A sure bet for all would-be ninjas who like to engage in pretend and role-playing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about ninjas. What is a ninja? What culture are they from? What do they do? Why are they appealing?

  • Do you prefer stories with a lot of action in them? Why, or why not?

  • What could you teach a younger sister, brother, or friend? What would you like to learn from older kids?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and funny stories

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