Ninja Kid #7: Ninja Toys! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Anton Emdin

It’s time for the Duck Creek Science Fair. Kenny has been working so hard at not eating his invention that he ate Nelson’s instead. It’s lucky that Grandma is the world’s best inventor and it’s not like she specifically said not to take her brand new invention to school without her permission.

The Glove of Life has the ability to give life to toys, although like all of Grandma’s inventions there are still a few kinks that need to be figured out. Naturally the evil Dr Kane finds a way to use this invention for evil.

It’s up to Ninja Kid and H-Dude to save the day. It’s a good thing too because it was their actions that allowed Dr Kane to get his hands on this invention-turned-weapon in the first place.

I had a couple of favourite things in this book: Kenny’s stuffed sloth, Speedy, was my favourite newly alive toy and Billy Bob’s ice cream maker was my favourite invention.

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There were some cameos from other Anh Do series in this book. Usually I like this sort of thing when it’s subtle, e.g., a character pictured reading another book the author has written. There was nothing subtle about the cameos in this book, though. They felt more like advertisements to me and I wasn’t a fan.

Besides my personal distaste, they also raised questions for me of whether the kids reading this book would even understand the references. The series whose characters found their way onto these pages seem to be targeted at an older audience than the Ninja Kid series so, while it could be used as an introduction to those characters, I expect many Ninja Kid readers wouldn’t have read any of the Wolf Girl, Rise of the Mythix or E-Boy series yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Grandma has invented the COOLEST thing ever – a GLOVE that can bring toys to life! But when the glove is stolen, Nelson and Kenny have to find a way to get it back … before a CRAZY TOY ARMY takes over the WHOLE TOWN!

Ninja Kid #6: Ninja Giants! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Anton Emdin

It’s time for Duck Creek’s Halloween Fair and Nelson and Kenny have been eating all their vegetables and working out to prepare for it. Last year they weren’t tall enough to go on the scariest rides but they’re determined to be able enjoy them this year.

It’s a good thing Grandma has a brand new invention, a size converter, which she cautions the boys not to use because it still has some kinks.

Like accidentally making you smaller when you wanted to be taller. This comes with a unique set of problems.

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It wouldn’t be a Ninja Kid book if evil Dr Kane didn’t show up in his helicopter, ready to implement his latest dastardly plan to run everyone out of Duck Creek.

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This looks like a job for Ninja Kid and H-Dude!

‘Ah, maybe they’ve got other problems to deal with’

Ninja Kid and H-Dude may look more adorable than they ever have before …

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but they’re still ready to take on Dr Kane and save Duck Creek again.

Grandma, as usual, was the highlight of the book for me. Readers who have been following this series from the beginning are being rewarded for their patience; we’re closer than ever to finding out exactly what happened to Nelson’s father.

Anton Emdin’s illustrations are staying true to the style Jeremy Ley introduced in the early books. The details are fun, the Halloween costumes are imaginative and the fair definitely looks like somewhere I would want to spend Halloween.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The fair is in town! Nelson and Kenny want to go on ALL the rides! But after testing Grandma’s new invention, they’re suddenly TOO SMALL to go anywhere! Luckily, Nelson and Kenny have a plan to get TALLER again … way, WAAAAY TALLER!

Ninja Kid #5: Ninja Clones! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Anton Emdin

Spoilers Ahead!

Nelson and Kenny are back and this time there are two of them! Their friends have started to get suspicious about their mysterious absences each time Ninja Kid and H-Dude battle evil Dr Kane so inventor extraordinaire Grandma has created Nelson and Kenny clones.

Now, whenever our heroes spring into action they will be able to activate their clones to stand in for them. That is, if the clones behave themselves. Dr Kane hasn’t been seen for a while but Nelson and Kenny take their clones with them to Camp Koala, just in case.

Strap on your jetpack and get ready for some cool dance moves, groan-worthy math puns

and an obstacle course worthy of a Ninja Warrior. Grandma is as fun as usual and her inventions still either work brilliantly or fail in a humorous way. Along with the usual assortment of heroes, school kids and baddie we are introduced to a new character, Ultimate Ninja.

Dr Kane still hasn’t figured out Ninja Kid and H-Dude’s not so secret identities, so I don’t think he’ll ever be smart enough to win. He’s determined though and I admire his tenacity.

While I usually marvel at the sheer wackiness of Grandma’s inventions

I was disappointed by her clones. I would have thought having an antenna sticking out the top of their heads, an on/off switch on the back of their heads and a microchip attached to their necks would have been a bit of a giveaway but apparently the people of Duck Creek aren’t all that observant. I’m also not entirely sure how Nelson and Kenny are supposed to be able to focus on defeating Dr Kane and control their clones simultaneously.

This book has a new illustrator, Anton Emdin. I loved Jeremy Ley’s illustrations in the first four books and had looked forward to them continuing to bring Anh Do’s characters to life. Anton Emdin has done a good job of keeping the style consistent with the rest of the series though, a feat that I expect is quite difficult to accomplish. Had I not seen the new name on the title page I doubt I would have known the difference.

I’ve started to become suspicious of Dr Kane’s involvement each time a new character is introduced in this series and so far haven’t been wrong. I hope to be surprised next time and look forward to finding out more about Nelson’s father.

I’d recommend reading this series in order as spoilers for prior Dr Kane mischief are included in this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nelson and Kenny have been CLONED!

Robot Nelson and Robot Kenny are faster, smarter and better dancers! 

But when the clones spin out of control at school camp, can the REAL Nelson and Kenny SAVE THE DAY?

Ninja Kid 4: Amazing Ninja! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jeremy Ley

Ninja Kid and his sidekick, H-Dude, are back to save the day. The Shaw Family Circus are coming to Duck Creek and they’re allowing some locals to be part of the performance. Kane and Nelson are working hard on their act.

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In the background, awesome, gorgeous, quirky Grandma Pat has been working on a new invention to help thwart Dr Kane, who hasn’t been seen for a suspiciously long time. She just knows that he’s been hiding out, working on a new evil scheme.

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The circus has all of the imaginative acts that I’ve come to expect from Anh Do’s books. The animal performances are funny and cute. I loved the singing horses and trampolining goats. The dancing rhino was definitely the standout act though.

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Sarah and Tiffany have more page time in this book and, true to form with heroes in disguise stories, they are still clueless as to their friends’ secret identities and their mysterious disappearances every single time the heroes appear.

I’d recommend reading these books in order, especially as there are some spoilers from the first three books in the series included in this one. Grandma Pat is still my favourite character; hopefully she’ll be present more in the next book.

As usual, Jeremy Ley’s illustrations bring all of the fun to life. I love all of the literal humour in his pictures. In this book that included Nelson’s heart in his mouth and an avocado Kenny.

Now I just need to sit here looking patient while I wait for Dr Kane to unleash his next evil scheme upon Duck Creek.

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Sorry, Nelson. You know it has to happen! I believe in you, though. You and H-Dude will prevail!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The circus is coming to town, and Nelson and his friends have a chance to be part of the show! 

Nelson’s amazing ninja skills will be perfect! But what will ninja Nelson do when big trouble arrives at the big top!

Ninja Kid #3: Ninja Switch! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jeremy Ley

Nelson has never been athletic but since he became a ninja that’s changed. He wants to show off his skills at his school’s athletics carnival but his mother and Grandma are worried about anyone learning he’s a ninja kid, especially the dastardly Dr Kane, who hasn’t found whatever he’s looking for in Duck Creek yet.

On the morning of the carnival one of Grandma’s inventions accidentally switches Nelson and Grandma’s powers. Suddenly Grandma feels amazing and starts doing ninja backflips and somersaults, whereas Nelson is feeling aches and pains and craving a cup of tea! He’s certain he’ll be embarrassed in front of everyone, including Sarah, the nicest girl at school, and Charles, the bully.

Dr Kane shows up again with his helicopter (that has more tricks) and we encounter an evil chipmunk. I love Nelson’s food obsessed cousin Kenny who has a poster of a club sandwich beside his bed and dreams he’s alone at an all-you-can-eat buffet most nights. My favourite character is still Grandma, who has the biggest personality in the series and is even more fun to read about with her new ninja skills.

Anh Do is one of my favourite authors and Ninja Kid is my favourite series of his. Jeremy Ley’s brilliant illustrations once again bring the characters and humour to life. Bring on book 4!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

For the first time ever, he won’t be a nerd – he’ll be AWESOME! But just when Nelson needs his powers the most, they get switched … with GRANDMA’S! How’s he going to win ANYTHING when he runs and jumps like an old lady?! 

Ninja Kid #2: Flying Ninja! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jeremy Ley

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I balanced precariously upon the cliffhanger of book one. Now I’ve devoured book two and am perched above another cliff.

‘But that’s a story for another day.’

Nooooo!

I hate the waiting game!

Me too, Ninja Kid! It feels like I’ve been waiting forever to read this book (March was forever ago, right?) and it didn’t disappoint. I think we’ve already established that I’m obsessed with all of Anh Do’s kid’s books and after only two books I think the Ninja Kid series is going to be my favourite.

They’re such feel-good books; they always make me smile and I come away from the experience feeling better about the world. In this instalment, Ninja Kid (Nelson) is up against all of the machines in Duck Creek, which are mysteriously coming to life each time it rains. There’s also a class excursion to the zoo that includes a stampede of zoo animals.

Once again Ninja Kid is teamed up with H-Dude (his best friend and cousin, Kenny) and awesome inventor Grandma Pat, who will always be my favourite character in the series. His mother is also there, but not in a starring role. In this book we find out just who that evil guy in the helicopter from the first book is and a little of his dastardly plan but the scene is set for Ninja Kid and helicopter guy to do battle another day.

Because Ninja Kid is sort of a superhero in the making his disguise of a sock fashioned into a mask is more than enough to deem him unrecognisable to everyone who knows him, even when he’s wearing the exact same clothes in Ninja mode and Nelson mode. However unbelievable this may seem, the precedence has already been established by many superheroes before him.

Both Nelson and Kenny face their fears in this book and the writing is often so corny it’s funny.

‘I hate vacuum cleaners!’ said Kenny. ‘They suck!’

It was hard to argue with him!

Jeremy Ley’s illustrations are magic! Some pages had two illustrations and there was only one page in the entire book that only had text. While Anh is one of my favourite kid’s authors, Jeremy has easily become one of my favourite illustrators. There’s humour in the pictures that matches that of the text, the expressions on the peoples’ faces are easy to ‘read’ and what’s happening in the book matches what’s happening in the pictures. I can’t believe how many kid’s books I’ve read where the illustrations have huge details that don’t line up with the description in the text, so finding illustrators that get it all right is a huge plus for me. Jeremy ticks every box and makes me wish he’d teach me how to draw.

I need the third book now please! ‘Coming soon’ is way too long to wait!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nelson is a ninja. He’s not the coolest. Or the bravest. But he is the world’s nerdiest ninja! And now he has to stop an animal rampage and machines going crazy all over town! For that, he’ll need his new jetpack … and some serious ninja skills! How will Nelson learn to fly when he’s scared of heights?!

Ninja Kid #1: From Nerd to Ninja! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jeremy Ley

Anh Do can do no wrong in my eyes! I love both his WeirDo and Hot Dog! series, and his new series, Ninja Kid, is even more fun. Nelson Kane is a nerd. He lives on a junkyard with his Mum, Grandma Pat and cousin Kenny.

His Mum works as a cleaner because the junkyard isn’t doing that well and given the amount of food cousin Kenny can put away in his ultra skinny frame, he’s probably eating for five. Nelson’s Dad was a fisherman who sadly was lost at sea.

Grandma Pat is one of the coolest grannies around. She’s an inventor whose inventions work really well – sometimes. It’s handy that this grannie lives in a junkyard because all of this random stuff, including the kitchen sink, is at her disposal when she’s in invention mode, which seems to be all the time.

She looks to me like a caricature of actress Linda Hunt. She’s the school principal who at 1.45m (4’ 9”) stands up to Arnie with her, “I’m watching you!” in Kindergarten Cop. I love that movie! You may know her from something slightly more recent, like NCIS: Los Angeles.

Anyway, imagine a mad scientist grannie with a lab coat, fluffy bunny slippers, a tooth (yes, just the one that I saw), hair up in a messy bun with a wrench poking out in one spot and a critter that may well be the Loch Ness Monster poking out somewhere else. I’m sure Nessie will be identified in some later book as a mouse or something to that effect, but until it’s identified I want it to be Nessie.

So, nerdy Nelson wakes up on his tenth birthday to a spider perched on his nose. He proceeds to jump/fall out of bed and instead of falling flat on his face like he usually would, he does some impressive acrobatics and lands on his feet. 🤔 Then he realises he no longer needs his glasses as he can see perfectly without them. 🤔🤔

As luck would have it today is the day he finds out he’s a ninja, likely the only one on the planet, and that’s going to come with some responsibility. But, shh! Don’t tell anyone because it’s a secret right now! 🤫

Before this book is over you’ll encounter a bully, plenty of bananas, more bug spray than you’ve likely ever seen and a giant thong. Oh, for those of you wondering what a thong is doing in a kid’s book, in Australia thongs are what you call flip flops, not what you were thinking of.

Jeremy Ley’s illustrations are so, so brilliant! The cover image gives you a preview of what’s to come. There are pictures on most pages and they’re simply awesome! The story comes alive in them and their humour mirrors that of the story. I don’t know how much interaction authors and illustrators have but these guys are on the same page in this book (in all possible ways).

As usual Anh Do’s writing has funny bits suitable for kids and adults, the family has interesting quirks, the story hooks you straight away and you finish the book wishing you had the next one beside you to start reading immediately.

Reader Beware: You will encounter a cliffhanger. While technically you could finish this book and be done you won’t want to be. If Anh’s other series are anything to go by there won’t be a dud among them and I can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nelson is a nerd! Unfit, uncool … totally awkward! But when he wakes up on his tenth birthday, he discovers he is a NINJA! THE LAST NINJA ON EARTH! How is he going to save the world when he cannot even get his undies on the right way?! With the help of Grandmas inventions and his wild cousin Kenny, can Nelson master his new ninja skills AND save Duck Creek?