Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Mail Order Ninja

Mail Order Ninja, written by Joshua Elder, illustrated by Erich Owen (Tokyopop)

Shelby says: Mail Order Ninja is a story about a boy named Timmy who enters in a contest and wins a ninja named Jiro. His mom and dad won’t let him keep Jiro but he ends up doing it anyway. So the snobby rich girl at his school gets jealous and buys an evil ninja, which happens to be Jiro’s arch enemy.

And hilarity ensues! Timmy takes on bullies, deals with his bratty little sister, battles the most evil of villainesses and her ninja army, and saves the town – with Jiro’s help of course. Mail Order Ninja puts a ninja clan battle in the middle of an elementary school, manages not to kill anyone, and makes you laugh.

Is this great literature? No. Is it really, really fun? Absolutely! Kids will love the story, the humor, and the action, while adults will enjoy the plethora of pop culture references. Elder does a great job of working the references into the story so that even if kids don’t get them, they still make sense. The author and artist found some very creative ways to make these books all-ages – there’s nothing here that would keep these books out of a children’s library – with some simple word choices (“crud” instead of “crap”) and carefully depicted fight scenes. I got quite a few chuckles out of these books and I enjoyed the art quite a bit, even though I’m not a manga reader. Mail Order Ninja is silly fun for pretty much everyone.

Of course, some parents might make the “ninjas are violent” argument, though the violence in this book is very mild compared to many supposedly all-ages comics I’ve read. Be prepared, however, for some role play. As soon as Shelby finished reading Mail Order Ninja Vol. 2, she used her newly acquired ninja skills to attack me using a rolled up map as a sword. Though the stealth of her approach was impressive, I was able to employ some swift defensive maneuvers and take her down with the dreaded “tickle torture.” Tokyopop has a “Youth Age 10+” label on M.O.N. but I think I’d put it at 7 and up. The preview of Vol. 1, Chapter 1 is about as violent as these books get, so you can decide for yourself.

Mail Order Ninja Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are really one continuous story, so if you’re going to get one, go ahead and get both.

Shelby says: The art is very manga and the story is cool but the way some of the characters talk is a little odd. Like, the stupid kid just goes “duhhhhhhhhh” and the nerdy kid talks the opposite. That’s not how kids in the real world act but it was funny. It’s funny the way that Timmy’s little sister, Lindsay, always says, “Are you prouder of me than of Timmy? May I have a unicorn since Timmy gets a ninja?” She’s always jealous, like somebody else I know. You probably can guess who! The second book is much different than the first, but I can’t tell you why because it’s a surprise. If you are gonna read the first book, you should read the second because it’s the same story. If you only read the first one, you’re not going to get the entire story. I would say the ages are 7 and up. If you like funny things and action you will like this book, because there’s a lot of that in it.

Sarah says: Mail Order Ninja is so good it was certificated by the Awesome Awesomeness Association of America. I like it because the art was totally awesome and the kids and the ninjas kicked butt in it – hiiiiiiiiyaaaaaaaa! I would consider it easy to read except for a few long words that Herman says. Herman is the school nerd. I liked Felicity, the evil rich girl, because I made a voice up for her and it’s a cool voice. I liked the part when the kids that had no training beat up the bad ninjas. I didn’t like the kissing part so I’m glad they didn’t really show it. Everybody will like it except for small kids that can’t understand words very easily. I gave these books to my school library and I’ll bet lots of kids will check ‘em out!


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