Review Blog

Jul 02 2015

Samurai vs Ninja series by Nick Falk and Tony Flowers

cover image

Random House Australia, 2015.
The battle for the golden egg. ISBN 9780857986054
The race for the shogun's treasure. ISBN 9780857986368
(Age: Yr 2+) The publisher's blurb for this series says, 'In the Edo Period of Japan, two teams fight for supremacy - the serious samurai and the scheming ninjas. To determine who is the best, a deadly contest is held. The prize is the Golden Egg, the most magnificent treasure in all of Japan. But when the ninjas cheat, the samurai will stop at nothing to get revenge. Tighten your topknot and sharpen your sword - the Samurai vs Ninja battle is about to begin!' And so begins another action-packed series from this talented pairing of Nick Falk and Tony Flowers who brought us both Saurus Street and Billy is a dragon.
This series is set 300 years ago when the serious Samurai with their smooth, straight kamishimo and tight topknots lived in a castle on the tip of the Mountain of the Tiger's Claw and the silly Ninja with their ripped and wrinkled shinobi shozoku and looped and loose obi lived in a castle at the tip of the neighbouring Mountain of the Dragon's Claw. Because the Samurai practise the ancient art of Nodo no Kingyo (the Way of the Thirsty Goldfish) and the Ninja, the ancient art of Mink-u-i-Buta (the Way of the Ugly Pig) the scene is set for conflict - and it is not long before it begins. The Samurai challenge the Ninja to a contest - and through crazy characters with even crazier ideas the reader is taken on an hilarious but suspenseful adventure. Despite the traditional honour and fairness normally associated with these protagonists, the reader sees a totally different side of them that provide many LOL moments!
Capitalising on the craze for things Japanese as manga-type stories permeate through to our youngest readers, this is an energetic, fast-moving series that will capture the imaginations of younger readers who are ready for independent reading but still need the support of short text and illustrations which are integral to that text. Falk and Flowers seem to feed off each other in a symbiotic relationship that knows exactly what their audience wants and how to give it to them and offer stories that are going to maintain that zest for reading as the transition from instructional reader to free choice is made. With chapters finishing at just the right time and the book finishing on a cliff-hanger that sets up the next episode, the books make perfect read-alouds which will have their listeners demanding more and scurrying to the library looking for the next in the series. And they won't have long to wait because Day of the dreadful undead and Curse of the Oni will be released on 1 July. In my school where we have many Japanese students and Japanese is taught across the school, I can see this series being the hit it deserves to be!
Barbara Braxton

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