Day: October 22, 2015

Review: Ninja Baby by David Zeltser

Ninja Baby by David Zeltser

Ninja Baby by David Zeltser, illustrated by Diane Goode

Released November 3, 2015

Right when she was born, Nina was a ninja baby. The doctor slapped her bottom to make sure she was breathing and Nina knocked him over with a ninja kick. Nina was immediately independent, working on her ninja skills even when taking a bath or having her diaper changed. But then everything changes when her parents bring home a new baby, a Kung Fu Master. He approaches everything differently, steadily taking over her parents’ attention and time, pulling them all under his power, and doing it all with a cute gurgle. There’s a lot a ninja can learn from a kung fu master and a lot a kung fu master can learn about stealth and attacks. Soon the children are working together to build their skills, so their parents had better watch out!

Zeltser embraces his ninja-themed picture book and doesn’t slow down. The ninja theme carries through the entire book, with baby Nina escaping her crib and doing sneak attacks. The humor of the book is dynamic and clever, offering a bright mix of ninja references and normal childhood experiences. But make no mistake, Nina is a true ninja, just as her little brother is a true kung fu master. It is this additional element that makes the book really work. Nina is stealthy and fast while her little brother takes on a completely different type of martial arts energy. The combination is pure delight, especially as they begin to learn from one another.

The illustrations by Goode are wry and cheery. They have a loose line about them that makes them very friendly. The images tell the complete story, making sure that readers know that Nina really is a little ninja and that she is truly gifted at stealth. The blissful new brother is also wonderfully depicted as a contrast to Nina.

A unique take on a new sibling book, this one will sneak up and steal your heart. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books

Vera B. Williams Dies

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The New York Times has the news of the death of Vera B. Williams at age 88. Willams started her career in children’s books late in life in her late 40s. She received a Caldecott Honor for A Chair for My Mother, one of my all-time favorite picture books. Williams has illustrated other books that have become instant classics such as More More More Said the Baby which also received a Caldecott Honor.

Her art is exuberant, colorful and filled with joy. She illustrated books in a naturally diverse way, incorporating children of all colors and making her books shine even more.