Reviews for Nighttime Ninja

Booklist Reviews 2012 October #1
*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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Silently, in the dark of night, a ninja creeps through a house while the family sleeps. It's not until two-thirds of the way through the book that our nimble ninja is revealed to be a young boy on the prowl for a midnight snack. Young's cut-paper and cloth illustrations imbue the spare, tension-filled text with mystery, beauty, and emotion.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
Silently, in the dark of night, a ninja creeps through a house. While the family sleeps, he stealthily embarks on his mission. "Hand over hand, the ninja climbed and clambered. Step by step, he balanced and leapt." It's not until two-thirds of the way through the book that the lights are turned on and our nimble ninja is revealed to be a young boy on the prowl for a midnight snack. Since Mom catches him in the act, the mission remains incomplete, but all ends happily and cozily for the nighttime ninja. On the surface, this is a simple story, a glimpse into the imagination of a child and the tender relationship between mother and son. Young's art, however, perfectly pairs with the minimal text. His cut-paper and cloth illustrations do the heavy lifting here, imbuing the tale with mystery, beauty, and emotion. When we are inside the boy's imagination, the colors are blues, browns, and purples. The illustrations are dominated by the black silhouette of a ninja in movement and framed by a gold and black border. When the ninja is discovered and the story abruptly enters reality, the palette changes to bold, warm reds, yellows, and oranges. The final spread, showing the boy's bedroom, is filled with texture and comforting detail (for instance, Mom's colorful robe is created using paper that has been folded and creased, showing age and softness). A spare text loaded with tension paired with evocative illustrations make this a bedtime story that will be asked for again and again. Just hope it doesn't give all the little ninjas out there too many ideas. ashley waring Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #2
Debut picture-book author DaCosta pens the quietly suspenseful quest of a ninja on a late-night mission…to the kitchen! Succinct language full of vivid verbs describing the action sets the mood for Young's lushly textured illustrations composed with cut paper, cloth, string and colored pencil. "The clock struck midnight…" and a grappling hook appears on the page turn, followed by a nimble and stealthy figure in black ably navigating every obstacle in his path. Climbing and clambering, balancing and leaping, he finally reaches his goal. Just as the ninja takes out his tools and goes to work, "Suddenly the lights flash on!" On this spread, the dusky hues and patterns utilized up to this point vanish to show an imposing hand-on-hip towering black silhouette against a glaringly bright, white background. Of course it turns out to be the child's mother catching her little one with a spoon stuck into what appears to be a chocolate-flavored treat. With the mission for a sweet snack aborted, mother proposes, "how about a getting-back-into-bed mission?" This relatively gentle tale celebrating the power of imagination fails to cover new territory but is executed quite well. Good to share at bedtime with antsy adventurers but too subdued a choice for die-hard Ninjago fans. (Picture book. 3-5) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #4

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.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September

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

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