Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.

NAUGHTY NINJA TAKES A BATH

After swinging out from the jungle after a long day of ninja-ing, Will makes his way home just in time for a bath. But as all ninjas know, danger lurks around every corner.

Even naughty ninjas get hungry, but Dad says, “Pee-yew,” and insists his little ninja get clean before going near a morsel. Ever the Naughty Ninja, Will follows his dad into the bathroom and immediately spies danger: Poisonous flies that have followed him from the jungle! As any parent would, his dad begs him not to say, “Ninja to the rescue,” because we all know what comes after a catchphrase…chaos! Through each increasingly rough rescue, Dad finds himself more and more defeated in his quest to complete bathtime, but ultimately he starts to find the infectious joy that only the ridiculousness of children can bring out in an adult. The art is bright and finds some nifty ninja perspectives that use the space well. It also places an interracial family at its center: Dad has brown skin and dark, puffy hair, and Mom is a white redhead; when out of his ninja cowl, Will looks like a slightly lighter-skinned version of his father. Kids will laugh at everything the dad is put through, and parents will knowingly nod, because we have all had nights with little ninjas soaking the bathroom floor. The book starts out a little text heavy but finds its groove quickly, reading smoothly going forward. Lots of action means it’s best not to save this one for bedtime.

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9433-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An interesting premise but the execution is underwhelming.

STELLA KEEPS THE SUN UP

Stella hates going to bed, so she and her best buddy attempt to prevent the sun from setting.

Imaginative Stella, a young Black girl with Afro puffs, misses her friend Kamrynn, a light-skinned, straight-haired girl who has moved to “the other side of the world.” Luckily, Stella still has her best pal Roger, a blue hippo stuffie. Neither Stella nor Roger like sleeping: “Why do we have to miss all the fun and go to bed just because it gets dark?” Deciding that “if it never gets dark, then we can stay awake forever,” the duo work tirelessly to “keep the sun awake.” They play loud music, shine flashlights at the sun, and even make various attempts to launch a cup of coffee up to the celestial orb in hopes that caffeine will keep it alert. Eventually, the pair quit when they realize that if the sun never sets for them, morning can never come for Kamrynn, who wakes up when they go to bed. Despite the book’s sweet touches, the narrative is weakened by some meandering irrelevancies that make the plot feel disconnected. Also, at the beginning of the story, Stella seems enamored of the moon—she wishes she could jump high enough to kiss it—yet she and Roger spend the bulk of the book trying to prevent nightfall; this discrepancy may give some readers pause. The digital, cartoonlike illustrations are bright, colorful, and cheerful but don’t make up for the shaky plotting.

An interesting premise but the execution is underwhelming. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8785-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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