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Blakely Blogs about Books

Owl Ninja by Sandy Fussell. Candlewick Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780763650032. 272 pp. $15.99

I’m taking advantage of having my son’s girlfriend, Blakely, nearby to read books for me and to share her teen perspective.  Blakely helped unpack (okay, she totally did all the unpacking of) the books I brought back from ALA Midwinter and immediately identified 51 titles she wanted to read right away.  She innocently asked me if I had any bookends in the house. “Kitty cat or teddy bear bookends?” I asked. Bwah! Hah! Hah! I have her in my clutches now. She is becoming an avid reader and writer of books. Here is today’s post:

Samurai Kids: Own Ninja Book Two. Owl Ninja is the second book in the Samurai Kids series. Even though I hadn’t read the first book, the second book has details about the first book to catch you up to speed. Owl Ninja is about these five kids who were shunned by society because of their differences. They are training to become great Samurais under the teaching of their Sensei – a samurai who is the subject of great myths, rumors, and gossip.

Characters include Kyoko who is the most ridiculed of all because she has write har, pink eyes, and six fingers and toes. Also, she is the only female samurai. Her parents abandoned her at birth and she was raised in the wild by snow monkeys – her spirit animal.

Mikko only has one arm but is more skilled with it than any other samurai with two arms. His spirit animal is the striped gecko.

Niya only has one leg and is the narrator of the story. He is just as skilled as wise as their sensei. His spirit animal is the white crane.

Yoshi has vowed never to fight because as a child while wrestling with another child, he threw him out of the ring, accidentally killing him by crushing his head on a rock. He spirit animal is the tiger.

Taji is a blind boy who always knows who is coming before anyone else. His spirit animal is the golden bat.

Nezume is fidgety and skinny and the fastest samurai in the mountains. His spirit animal is the long-tailed rat.

Sensei Ki-Yaga was once a famous samurai warrior and teacher to the emperor.

In the story these five samurai kids and their sensei travel to see the emperor in order to stop a great war that is about to happen. With the help of a couple ninja and some old friends, they travel a long distance – learning,  telling stories, meeting new and old friends, and even seeing a ghost along the way.

Our young samurai friends (called Cockroaches) learn honor, love, respect, courage, benevolence, wisdom, and to be like ninjas – all to make sure that no one has to die for a war. There is conflict as the dragon master and his students attempt to prevent them from convincing the emperor to end the war.

Blakely’s favorite passage:

Yoshi asks “I would like to ask the Dragon Master a question. Why would any master want his students to fight?”

The Dragon’s chest bloats with pride, and the opportunity to teach Ki-Yaga’s Cockroaches a lesson. “Because my students will emerge victorious and win great honor.”

Nezume shakes his head. “They will be covered in blood.”

“Or even worse,” Sensei says, “they will be covered in cloth.”


Our favorite part of Owl Ninja were the illustrations by Rhian Nest James. These were absolutely lovely illustrations that seemed true to Japanese techniques. Blakely mentioned they look like they were painted with brushes of ink. Even though we were reading an ARC, we loved the illustrations. I cannot wait to see the final book.

You can email Blakely by clicking here. Don’t you wish you were curled up on the sofas and love seats reading with us and chatting about books?


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