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Nina the Neighborhood Ninja Review by Karen WaideSonia Panigrahy
Tiny Sparks Press
We had the privilege of reviewing the children’s picture book titled, Nina the Neighborhood Ninja written by Sonia Panigrahy, and illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla. This 43-page paperback book is available from Amazon for $11.99. It is appropriate for children ages 3-7.
Nina the Neighborhood Ninja is just an everyday young girl. An everyday girl who is a superhero, complete with cape and sidekick, Fiona the Firefly. Her super power is rescuing those in need of help. She is able to do this because she is smart, and strong, and speedy, not because she has any special powers such as the ability to fly or see through walls, or anything like that. She is just an ordinary girl who wants to help others.
Usually things are pretty normal around her neighborhood, but on the day the story takes place, she is having a day described as: a day “when everything seems to happen all at once.” While playing soccer at the park, she comes to the rescue of a baby bird that fell out of the tree. Later, while running home to avoid some bad weather, she takes the time to build a shelter for a cat who is scared of the upcoming storm. Then, when Nina and Fiona are almost home, they come across a family of turtles stuck in a sandbox. Nina helps them out while Fiona holds Nina’s cape over her head to keep her dry from the rain.
In each of these instances, Nina puts others first. She leaves the soccer game to help the bird. She risks getting caught in the storm to build the shelter for the kitty. And she withstands the storm, dealing with the wet, the cold, the tiredness, and her hunger, in order to save the turtles from sinking into the sand. As mentioned several times in the book, she is “smart and strong and speedy.” We also see that she is brave, quick thinking, and selfless.
She has also made some new friends due to her helpfulness. At the end of the book, after they have had a warm bath and dinner, and the rain has stopped, her friends show up to surprise her with a special camp out, complete with camp fire, tent, and s’mores.
This book shows the importance of helping others. It also shows that you don’t have to have special powers to do special things. Anyone and everyone can be a hero if they are determined enough to do so. In fact, at the end of the book, Nina asks the readers if they have superpowers. On the last several pages, the questions are posed, “Are you smart?,” “Are you strong?,” “Are you speedy?.” The answer to all of these questions is yes. As readers finish the book, they are encouraged that they can be superheros as well.
My children and I enjoyed reading this book. The story is simple, with medium-sized font and a small amount of text per page. There is usually a bright and cheerful, full-color illustration on one side of the double-page spread, and text on the other, with just a few exceptions. The characters have cute, oversized heads and are almost always pictured with a big smile, except when they are showing concern.
Though it is meant to inspire young girls into believing they can be superheros too, my son also enjoyed the book. To me, it is an affirmation for all children, boys and girls. Though not really a “Christian” book, I feel it is one that can be used to share the importance of putting others first, as Jesus has taught us to do. All in all, I think it is a really cute book, suitable for young girls and boys. I admit, I do love that a girl is portrayed as a superhero. Additionally, I love books that promote such worthwhile character traits.
- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017