Little Kunoichi The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida, a book review

 In Books and Movies


Ninjas. Whether you are a boy or a girl, young or old, there is something fascinating about ninjas. When I was pregnant with my oldest Dek, I had a very bizarre list of reasons why being a new parent was going to be awesome (I was kind of freaking out and my husband was trying to make me laugh, which is why we started the list). On our top 10 list of reasons being a parent would rock there was “the making of a ninja squad.” Obviously ninjas would be big in our family (pirate brigade and soccer team were also on that list).

Now that I have two little boys ninjas naturally pop up- ninja kicks, ninja germs, ninja surprise. Recently, Dek couldn’t wait to play ninja- a game I made up on the fly to keep my boys moving as we explore Europe. Basically the boys ran slightly ahead of me and tried to jump out to scare me. When we returned home and I had a review copy of Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl waiting for me, Dek couldn’t wait to jump in. I was a bit skeptical of the ninja girl when I had boys, but as my friend Tara always reminds me, little girls and boys really aren’t that different in many ways. As a gal who grew up in a family filled with women (except my dad of course) I loved that the lead character was a female ninja. You don’t often see that especially if you spent many nights in art college watching Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies with the boys.

Little Kunoichi (“female ninja” in Japanese) is the story of a little ninja girl who lives with her ninja family on a secret island and goes to a super secret ninja school for girls (it doesn’t get more secret than that people). As we quickly find out though, being a ninja isn’t as easy as it sounds (OK, so being a ninja never sounded easy, but if you are from a family of ninjas you would assume you would soak in a bit of the talent). Kunoichi is disheartened until she meets a little samurai boy from a neighboring school. He is also having some trouble with his training, but he won’t give up. This inspires our little ninja girl to practice a little more. These two students soon become friends and decide to pool their talents at the Island Festival. At the end of the book the children are reminded of an important lesson- “Better; not perfect. Practice and have fun.”

As an adult, I found the message charming. The story is basic and the text can be hard to follow given the layout, but this book isn’t about the words. Author and illustrator Sanae Ishida shows that there is so much more to this story than words. Her beautiful and playful illustrations tell the story all on their own, which made it a lot easier for my boys to follow and also “read” by themselves. I loved that Japanese words were mixed into the story (any language learning opportunity is a good one). At the back of the book you will also find factoids about Japanese culture and folklore. There is even a seek-and-find within the book when the children go to the festival that can keep your kids occupied for hours (OK, minutes, but to a mom even minutes is bliss).

Overall this was a delightful tale, but the illustrations are really what make this book special. If you have a little ninja in your home, you will want to pick this one up. Let your kids lead the way, find different characters throughout the book, and create a story of their own. You never know where a little ninja’s imagination will take them.


Publisher’s Synopsis: Little Kunoichi, a young ninja in training, is frustrated. Inspired by tiny Chibi Samurai’s practice and skills, she works harder than ever and makes a friend. Together, they show the power of perseverance, hard work, and cooperation when they wow the crowd at the Island Festival. Ninja skills don’t come easily to Little Kunoichi. She needs determination—and a special friend—to unleash her power!

Title: Little Kunoichi-The Ninja Girl
Author: Sanae Ishida
Publisher: Little Bigfoot (1st edition)
Publication Date: May 5, 2015, $12.67 hardcover
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Pages: 32 pages
ISBN: 978-1570619540
For ages: 3-7 years old


Many thanks to Sasquatch Books for sending a copy of this tale for review. As always, my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know. Images courtesy of Little Bigfoot. This post contains affiliate links. 


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  • Aleney

    My four-year old girl is following in her big brothers ninja loving footsteps and has just started martial arts training. She will adore this. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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