Rating: 4 1/2 stars
The Ninja warrior animals return courtesy of Corey Rosen Schwartz and coauthor Rebecca J. Gomez. Dan Santat’s colorful and heavily stylized illustrations accompany the rhyming fairy tale.
The two sisters have trained at the local dojo and worked diligently on their ninja skills. Their mother was stolen away and when their father disappeared, they found suspicious fox tracks around. Following the tracks, they left a trail of breadcrumbs so they could find their way back in the deep dark woods.
Soon the trail and the breadcrumbs have disappeared. Hensel and Gretel and worried until they see a beacon of light. It’s a cornbread cottage! True to the fairy tale, they are invited inside when the fox tries to capture them. Hensel enters the cottage and is locked up in a cage with Pop. In the meantime, clever Gretel saves mom from being stir-fried just in the nick of time. Hensel jimmies the lock on the cage while Gretel engages the fox in a fight.
Here is where Rosen’s clever word play combines with Santat’s lively action illustrations to create a few great pages of fighting. “The fox said, ‘Surrender? No way, chicken tender! Your cheep little threats are absurd!'” Hensel helps by decking the fox with a wok, and the family leaves together.
Children will love that the ninja sisters decide to protect other bird from bird-napping predators. Santat’s brilliant use of light and dark add a layer of enjoyment to any reading of this picture book.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover picture book provided by the publisher for review purposes.