Friday, January 3, 2020

Review - The Ninjabread Man

The Ninjabread Man (Twisted Fairy Tales)
by Stewart Ross
illustrated by Chris Jevons
Date: 2020
Publisher: Arcturus Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Long ago, in ancient Japan, two ninja warriors had everything they wanted in life, except for a child. So they decided to bake one! Out of the oven leaped a speedy, sneaky, and brave Ninjabread Man... who went on to cause absolute chaos! This hilarious tale will be sure to thrill readers aged 6+.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm not pulling punches anymore. Life is too short for bad books, and there's really no excuse for the nonsense that I'm seeing in some picture books these days. I would not give my child (or anyone else's) a book that's full of grammar issues. This book started out badly with the impossible speech tags in the second paragraph. Yes, the second paragraph. Frustrated, I kept reading, only to be hit with more and more nonsense. The characters literally smiled, grinned, nodded, and snorted their speech throughout. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: a silent or non-verbal action is not a dialogue tag! So, for each instance, I knocked off a star for the writing portion of my rating. There were eight instances. I'll be generous and ignore the fact that I should be dealing with negative stars here...

The story itself seems way too long, even though the book is only 32 pages. It starts with a couple of retired ninjas who want a child to carry on their work (always a great reason to have offspring). So these selfish people go to Crafty Fox (inexplicably, there are human-sized anthropomorphized animals living in the same world) and he tells them to bake themselves a kid using lemon, ginger, and wasabi. But they don't really listen, add way too much of each ingredient, and end up with a gingerbread brat who proceeds to destroy everything in his path. After each of the other animals fails to capture the Ninjabread Man, Crafty Fox tries to eat him... only to be thwarted by the amount of wasabi. The baked good runs away, never to be seen again.

There really isn't much to this particular story, and I don't really see the point of setting it in Japan. It makes for a weird mix of story themes. The writing is bland and uninteresting (although the author seems to have tried to jazz it up by avoiding the word "said" as much as possible). The illustrations may be the best part of this... but even that managed to get messed up, as this is one of those picture books that doesn't credit the illustrator on the cover (I hate that).

I like fractured fairy tales, but I don't like this. I'd only recommend this to readers who don't care at all how the English language is used (or abused).

Thank you to NetGalley and Arcturus Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 0/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 1.17 out of 5

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