School Library Journal
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PreS-Gr 1-It's midnight and a ninja is sneaking through a silent house. He's creeping closer and closer to his target until suddenly, "the lights flash on!" In an unexpectedly humorous twist, the ninja turns out to be a little boy caught by his mother in his attempt to raid the kitchen. She confiscates his midnight snack and sends her little ninja back to bed. Young's austere, nearly abstract mixed-media collage illustrations are mostly black silhouettes of the ninja in various action poses, set against paper and fabric backgrounds. They perfectly complement DaCosta's spare but neatly suspenseful story. Pair this one with J. C. Phillipps's Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed (Viking, 2009) and David Bruins's The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear (Kids Can, 2009) for a fun ninja-themed storytime.-Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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DaCosta builds her debut on the scaffolding of the suspenseful adventure that turns out to be make-believe. Illustrators of stories like these sometimes hint at what's coming with comic artwork, but Young's (The House That Baba Built) collages are deadly serious as he enters fully into the boy's fantasy. His ninja, a black silhouette, breaks into a house and makes his way silently toward some unknown object: "He crept down the twisting moonlit hallway, and knelt in the dark shadows, listening." Suddenly, a huge mother-shaped shadow flicks the light on, and the ninja is revealed as a boy sneaking into the kitchen for ice cream. Readers will be jolted (in a good way)-they've been immersed in the ninja's search, and it's tense with expectation. Artwork as fine as Young's might overshadow the story, but DaCosta crafts her spare text carefully and with humor. Her ninja language tracks the boy's actions right up to the moment he grabs a spoon. The depth of feeling Da Costa and Young give to the boy's fantasy makes this a standout. Ages 3-6. Illustrator's agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, McIntosh & Otis. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Stealth and silent, a ninja sets off on a midnight mission, breaking into a house to steal some treasure. He sneaks and balances, practiced and undetectable. And just as the sacred object is in his grasp, the lights flip on and his mother catches him, ice cream and spoon in his red-hot hands. Alas, the nighttime ninja is sent to bed, to dream of creeping and crawling another day. Young's expressive collage artwork, built of fabric, paper, and bits of string, hums with vitality, even in the silence of midnight. The imagined ninja, in black silhouette, slithers from page to page, breaking out of dark, tightly organized frames unable to contain his ardent energy. Beneath these frames, debut author DaCosta's spare, sinuous prose reinforces the ninja's intrepid, surreptitious elegance ( Step by step, he balanced and leapt ). At the moment of climactic surprise, text and image together turn a stylistic corner, finding vernacular comfort in a contemporary Japanese home. With measured pacing, careful design, and a beautifully symbiotic partnership of word and image, this enormously appealing, timeless story promises to delight preschool audiences and families alike for years to come.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2010 Booklist