I pulled this from the library shelf because I thought this might be a cute book a particular friend of mine might enjoy. Now I’m going to have to find the other two Little Kunoichi the Ninja Girl adventures.
Ba-Chan The Ninja Grandma: An adventure with Little Kunoichi the Ninja Girl
By Sanae Ishida. Little Bigfoot, 2018. Hardcover Picture book, 32pp. Ages 4-8.
Summer vacation is nearly over and Little Kunoichi and her pet, Bunny, are BORED! Little Kunoichi has a list of expensive ideas to keep her entertained. Her parents have a better idea, and ship her, her brother, and Bunny off to grandma’s for the rest of the summer.
Ba-chan “lives on a nearby island she build HERSELF.” And it is pretty bad-ass. For one, it turns into a turtle submarine. Ba-chan feeds and takes them to her workshop and after a remote control swallowing incident, they end up in a theme park Ba-chan decided to build underwater.
The departure to The Treasure Trove includes more opportunities to admire the interesting and often humorous details, but it also doubles as a departure from a typical “vacation at grandma’s” narrative. Ishida offers the reader a maze, replete with conversation on how desires can distract us. There is a coaster that goes in circles called “Rat Race,” a Barter Town, etc. We soon learn that Ba-chan created the amusement park to explore questions like: “What’s really valuable?” She finds, “Money is like an amusement park—full of ups and downs and mysterious whirl-arounds.”
A poem returns us to other valuable ways to use our time. She is a seriously awesome grandma. I’m a huge fan of their practice of napping-jutsu (where they dream of things they enjoy.)
The closing page confirms our suspicions of what the narrative and its characters value: “curiosity, resourcefulness, kindness, love, imagination!” I am all about that.
If you’ve known me long, you know I’m not a huge fan of lengthy digressions, especially when they venture into “lessons,” but I found myself amused with Ishida’s book. It may be that I am interested in her unusual approach to the conversation of time and money—of consumerism and what is worth the while and investing in. I’m not sure anyone could successfully accuse her approach of being didactic. The narrative’s “lesson” is written into a Shigin poem, and later, incorporated into a dance under the stars.
I may have been charmed by those quiet insertions of humor, the ninja Frida Kahlo painting, and the playfulness and imagination Ishida offers in her illustrations. I like how the narrative demonstrates what curiosity and creativity can do. I would’ve had this one for my (now grown) Natalya, because of the portrayal of a hard-working, creative genius Ba-chan. Ishida captures the method and madness behind creative work/ers in a fun and energizing way.
Ba-Chan The Ninja Grandma is a fun addition to a library; lovers of Japanese culture will have to check it out for sure. Ishida offers pronunciation immediate to a word in parentheticals, and offers a page of trivia at the end of the book. I can see this in households of creatives, artist and scientist alike (which, notably, the book questions the differentiation between the two).