Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book #339: Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, Illustrated by Ed Young

Image from EdYoungArt.com
In the dark of the night the ninja creeps and climbs, crawls and leaps through the house. Everyone is asleep as he slips from shadow to shadow. As he takes up his tools to work, the lights flash on and his mother appears! Even though the ninja protests that he hasn’t finished his (ice cream eating) mission, his mother has another idea, “Well, how about a getting-back-into-bed mission?”

The sparse text has a suspenseful feeling and readers will think they are reading a story about a real ninja right up to the moment when the mother turns on the lights. Dark and light, as well as movement are emphasized in the text. Young’s collage illustrations, utilizing cut paper, textured cloth, string, and colored pencil, combined with cinematic angles further the suspense of the story. Many of the illustrations are framed in purple , but the Nighttime Ninja is able to defy these borders. Although Young’s illustrations are stylistic, they take the child’s imagined world seriously up to the moment he’s caught with a spoon in his hand. Once the lights are turned on the environment becomes comforting and cozy, infused with warm yellow light.

When you share this book, make sure you are prepared by knowing the truth versus the myths of ninjas. Make sure the books you share don’t perpetuate stereotypes of ninjas or Japanese culture. Try pairing this book with You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Ninja Warrior!: A Secret Job That’s Your Destiny.

After you read this book, get the kids moving by having them act out the movements in the text. This is also a great way to define the descriptive vocabulary words in the book, such as “clambered,” “leapt,” and “knelt.” You can also set up a ninja obstacle course that takes kids through the movements in the story and leads them to a snack or craft.

Check out the Nighttime Ninja blog for extension ideas, many supplied by Hilary Moon Murphy of the Washburn Library in Minneapolis, MN. I especially like the toilet paper roll ninjas.

The book trailer for this book is humorous and features Emmet, a boy who loves the story of Nighttime Ninja so much he becomes a Daytime Ninja.



  1. Hi, Amy. Thanks for a great post on this book. I've heard about it a few times and now know I want to get my hands on a copy!

    1. Hey Kerry, the first time I heard about this book was on your blog! I think you'd have a great time with all the movement in the book. I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate yoga, but I ran out of time to write the post.