Adds little to the original while propagating Asian and martial arts stereotypes.

THE NINJABREAD MAN

A ninja-themed retelling of “The Gingerbread Man.”

“Once upon a time, there was a little old sensei who taught ninjas in a hidden dojo.” Said sensei is a small fuchsia-and-white panda with trailing mustache and beard and a stereotypical conical hat, and his ninjas include Bear, Fox, Mouse, and Snake, all in black outfits tied with a colored belt. To reward their hard work, the sensei, working from an ancient recipe, crafts a Ninjabread treat: a tiny ninja complete with his own miniscule sword and throwing stars. When the cookie escapes the oven, the teacher warns his students with a gong. Bear, Snake, and Mouse hear it and confront the little cookie, but they fail to capture or eat him. Fox’s difficulty hearing anything over the sound of the waterfall gives him the perfect way to lure the Ninjabread Man closer, to the cookie’s demise. Leigh’s retelling may enthrall kids practicing martial arts, but the tale is rather weak: the rhymes the cookie spouts are loose and sporadic; the fights with the other ninjas are over too quickly; and it’s never clear just how the cookie succeeds against his much larger opponents. Spare, Asian-inspired scenes background the action of the ninjas, who all sport extremely mean faces when confronting their small nemesis.

Adds little to the original while propagating Asian and martial arts stereotypes. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-81430-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Lendroth brings the right ingredients, offering a tale that challenges gender stereotypes and showcases an intergenerational...

NATSUMI!

An exuberant young girl finds her match in taiko drumming.

A whirlwind of energy, Natsumi often hears the words, “Not so fast” or “hard” or “loud” from her family. When she worries her boisterous actions always lead to mistakes, her grandfather finds the perfect outlet: taiko. On stage, Natsumi pounds the large, barrel-shaped drums—their thundering boom an extension of her enthusiastic spirit. Like Kevin Henkes with his water pistol–toting Lilly, Lendroth offers a charming character who defies traditional gender associations. However, her choice to place this modern story in a “village” is interesting. Cultural festivals such as the one she describes are experienced by Japanese-Americans today, and the United States has a thriving taiko or kumidaiko scene, yet Americans do not typically refer to their small towns or rural locations as villages. Acknowledgement that the setting is in Japan in the tale’s initial setup would have been helpful, as it establishes an entirely different lens for readers. Digital art, made to look like marker drawings, are colored in a mostly pastel palette. Unfortunately, while the artist is capable of including more interest and detail in her illustrations, as in her Five Green and Speckled Frogs (2003), she fails to give these characters and setting the specificity she gave generic animals.

Lendroth brings the right ingredients, offering a tale that challenges gender stereotypes and showcases an intergenerational bond, but overall, it’s a disappointing execution to a promising start. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-17090-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more