My Nanna is a Ninja by Damon Young

cover image

Ill. by Peter Carnavas. UQP, 2014. ISBN 9780702250095.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Humour, Family relationships, Love. Some nannas dress in punk, some in blue, but this one dresses in black, setting the scene for this funny tale of difference. Each page gives a familiar scenario for a nanna, how they dress, what they do in their spare time, how they eat, what they do on holiday. Many go swimming or ski or ride but this one practices somersaulting all day long. Some eat with chopsticks, or teaspoons or forks, but this one uses her shiny swords. Finally, it shows how each nanna puts the loved child to bed. Some read a story, some stroke the weary head, saying 'I love you', some yawn loudly, some yodel, but this nanna's kisses can't be heard, but the child knows that she has been there.
Beautiful watercolour illustrations accompany the story of difference, and show the nanna in all of her glory, being part of the child's life even though she does not do all the things the other nannas do. Kids will laugh out loud as each nanna is shown, then on turning the page they find out what the Ninja nanna does. I love the endpapers with the repeated illustrations of the Ninja nanna and the fact that it grew out of reading stories at his child's kindergarten and noticing that the grans were all the same.
This is a tale full of the love of life, despite how you look or act, despite what others do and expect of you. The love and companionship between a child and his grandmother is all that matters, not what they wear or do. In a classroom, this picture book could promote equality and sharing, discussions about difference, and the meaning of family.
Fran Knight