The latest title in the Book Ninjas collection features two cool chicks named Hensel and Gretel. When a vicious fox becomes a danger in the area and they lose their mother, these chicks take action. They sign up for ninjitsu lesson at the Three Pigs Dojo, where the motto is "Get empowered, not devoured." When they return home from their lessons and discover that their father is missing and there are fox prints, they know it is time to put what they have learned into action. After a long search in the forest, they arrive for the final showdown with the villain.
Obviously this is a new take on the Hansel and Gretel story. Instead of being left in the woods by their parents, they go into the forest to find their poor father. Rather than a gingerbread house, there is a house made of cornbread. The rhyming text gives the story a rhythm without being too cutesy. Readers of all ages will have fun reading phrases like, "No way, chicken tender!" or "Is that witchy fox ready for kung POW chickens?"
And as funny as the text is, Dan Santat's illustrations take it to the next level. The double-page spread of the chicks tracking their father and his abductor into the forest emphasizes how vast and dark it is as they travel through trees, over log bridges, and across rocky outcroppings. I'm not sure how he manages to get faces with beaks to show so many expressions, but you can clearly see determination, panic, or surprise in the various scenes. He also manages to convey a sense of dramatic slow-motion during the fight scenes, just like in an action shot from a martial arts movie.
Perfect for fairy tale fans, or readers or graphic novels and superhero comics - with plenty of action packed into each scene. Highly recommended for all ages.
Visit Curious City to find out more about programming for libraries and also check out the Book Ninjas site.
* Update - 08/01/2016 We have added this title to the Fairview Library.