Written by Barbara DaCosta, Illustrated by Ed Young
Hachette Book Group, 2012
The clock struck midnight…
The plot in a nutshell: A ninja sneaks through a house in the middle of night, bent on completing his important mission
A shadowy ninja figure appears and makes his way around a landscape that seems to include a dense bamboo jungle, a moonlit sky and a quiet home. He creeps silently down a hallway and listens in the shadows behind a screen. He reaches his goal and takes out his tools, but suddenly the lights turn on, revealing the ninja to be a small boy with a spoon and a bowl of ice cream. His mother makes him give her the ice cream, although he protests that he hasn’t finished his mission. She suggests changing the mission to a ‘getting-back-into-bed’ mission and then tucks him in, wishing him a good night.
This is the first picture book from author Barbara DaCosta, whose bio states that she was a bit of a ninja in her own childhood. Ms. DaCosta makes the text very poetic and keeps it minimal, letting the story and pictures work together to tell the story. The distinctive artwork, from illustrator Ed Young, uses cut paper, string, fabric and colored pencil to create the nighttime environment for this stealthy story. The mystery of what is actually happening builds slowly from the first page and the reveal of the true mission will be a great surprise that kids are sure to love. This would make a wonderful bedtime story for those kids (you know who they are) who just can’t seem to stay in bed.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the mission you are currently on is not always the mission you’re supposed to be on.