Written by David Zeltser
Illustrated by Diane Goode
Published by Chronicle Books
There are a lot of books about a family with a kid introducing a new child to the dynamic, and nine times out of ten they are insipid pablum, quite frankly. David Zeltser’s debut picture book, Ninja Baby, is that tenth book, which captures the growing family without devolving into the maudlin, but instead tackles the subject with great humour and ingenuity.
Young Nina karate chopped the delivery room doctor when she spanked her bottom upon her birth, and from then on she’s expanded on her ninja abilities and implements them in every facet of her life, turning diaper changes into “hand-to-hand combat,” and applies flying kicks to snack time by “assassinating her apple sauce.”
When her baby brother (dubbed “The Master”) is born, Nina is affected the way children are affected in real life: She feels lonely. She feels replaced. She feels resentful of this new thing that’s come along and messed up her good thing.
But being a good ninja is largely about observation, and what Nina sees in this new “Kung Fu master” is an ability to control the parental units through sheer cuteness. Nina realizes that she can learn something from her brother, and that perhaps she can teach him something as well… If they band together they will be unstoppable.
Diane Goode’s illustrations are perfectly matched to Zetlser’s words, and go even a step further by adding her own clever touches and rounding out the characters and story. She fills every corner of the illustrations with cute touches and details.
Ninja Baby is a brilliant little book, and, in the sub-genre of books about the growing family it’s head and shoulders above the rest.
Kinderlit.ca requested and received a copy of Ninja Baby in exchange for an honest review. Read about our review policy HERE.