Learning life lessons with Grandma



Authored and illustrated by Sanae Ishida (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2018, 32 pp., $16.99, hardcover)

Here’s a ninja tale starring the adventures of little Kunoichi, released in 2018. This one pairs up “Ba-chan,” the “Ninja Grandma,” and her granddaughter. This is the third book about little Kunoichi, and the illustrations are once again engaging.

Kunoichi is spending the end of summer vacation on the island where she lives with her ninja family. Her parents decide to send Kunoichi and her brother to their grandma’s (Ba-chan’s). The first job will be to buy Bachan “omiyage,” a gift.

Ba-chan is happy to see her two grandchildren and greets them warmly. She also has mochi and animal-shaped tempura. Yum.

Ba-chan takes them to her workshop. Baby Bro swallows a remote control, which turns the island into a submarine. The submarine goes underwater and the children enter a giant amusement park, the Treasure Trove. They spend the day exploring until Baby Bro’s stomach rumbles. The children flee and make it back above water.

Kunoichi asks Bachan why she built the Treasure Trove. Bachan says she observed that people “treat money like it’s more valuable than anything else.” Bachan says she wrote a shigin poem about what is valuable in life. Things for sale? No, people are “abundant” and “full of light, aglow like fireflies.” People have “priceless inner magic.”

The story ends with Bachan and her grandchildren building a fire roasting taiyaki, and dancing under the stars.

A personal note: At this time I am still mourning the death of my mother as I read this book. Oddly, I find that parts of this book pertain to my mourning. “People have priceless inner magic,” describes how I feel about my mother and the character Kunoichi. I am lucky to have picked up the book to read at this time because as I continue to work through the sadness, it encourages me to move forward and focus on the many blessings I have. Pardon me now while I go dance under the stars.

Twila Tomita reviews children’s books for the Nichi Bei and writes from Sacramento. She’s a retired public elementary teacher. If you would like to suggest a good children’s book for her to review, please send the name, author, and a very short description of the content to NBChildrensBooks@gmail.com.

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