[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Orchard Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Kindle
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound iBooks[/alert]

This is not your tale of the Gingerbread Man from your childhood. The Ninjabread Man was made by a little old panda sensei, to teach his various animal pupils how to be a great ninja. This pint-size ninja is made of sugar and spice, but he’s not necessarily nice! He’s a supernaturally talented ninja, and he bests almost all of Sensei’s students… but will he outsmart the sly Ninja Fox?

This is another fun offering from Orchard Books for early elementary school kids, and with more colorful, engaging illustrations by Chris Gall, who seems to be hitting his stride as an artist. This book’s illustrations have improved color sense and more texture and warmth compared to his previous books. The pictures, along with C.J. Leigh’s evocative, alliterative prose, make it so that you can practically smell the scent of gingerbread wafting from the page. Aside from a little repetitiveness—the words “ninja” and “cookie” are used so often that they cease to look like words anymore—the narrative is engaging and well-paced.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking The Ninjabread Man is a book for boys – although there is something about ninjas that always seems to fascinate little boys. But at least one of Sensei’s pupils, Ninja Snake, is female, so there is something in the story for active, imaginative girls to relate to as well. This book also teaches the important lesson that physical strength is one thing, but some foes can only be beaten by smarts—and that’s something that boys and girls alike should know.

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