Belinda the Ninja Ballerina by Candida Baker ill Mitch Vane

Belinda didn’t want to go to ballet school.

‘You’ll enjoy it,’ her mother said.

‘I won’t,’ Belinda said. ‘I want to be a ninja.’

Belinda didn’t want to go to ballet school. Belinda, the Ninja Ballerina

‘You’ll enjoy it,’ her mother said.

‘I won’t,’ Belinda said. ‘I want to be a ninja.’

Belinda is very clear. She wants to be a ninja. She says it before her mother signs her up to do ballet classes with her very balletic cousin Millie. She tells her teacher, Miss Kate, when they are warming up on the barre and showing what they can do. She continues to tell her mother and her teacher, but neither seem to really believe her, even when planning and practice begin for their end-of-term concert. So she says it again, loudly. Miss Kate listens this time and finds the perfect role for Belinda. Her new role keeps her involved in the concert but caters for her particular interests and skills. Illustrations are ink and water colour set in white space.

Belinda’s mother is convinced Belinda will enjoy ballet classes with her cousin despite her stated preference to be a ninja. Miss Kate does her best to teach Belinda about ballet, but while it’s perfect for her cousin Millie, ballet is not the activity for Belinda. Belinda, the Ninja Ballerina is a gently humourous story about a determined young girl who will not fit into the mould expected of her. It’s also a story about the need for, and ability of teachers, to accommodate the different needs/skills of their charges. Belinda’s persistence and self-belief will reassure children who find they don’t necessarily fit mainstream programs/activities. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Belinda, the Ninja Ballerina, Candida Baker ill Mitch Vane Ford Street Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925272048

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

My Nanna is a Ninja, by Damon Young & Peter Carnavas

Some nannas dress in pink
when they jog around the track.
But my nanna is a ninja…
so she dresses up in black.

All nannas are different, but when your nanna is a ninja, she does super different things, like juggling ninja stars and eating with swords. Still, even a ninja nanna can do ‘normal’ grandmother things like kissing a grandchild goodnight, though she might do it very quietly.

My Nanna is a Ninja is a humour-filled picture book in rhyme, celebrating difference, the grandparent-grandchild relationship and, of course, ninjas. The text flows freely, and the humour of Nanna’s actions will amuse. The illustrations, in ink and watercolour have all the whimsy we’ve come to expect from Peter Carnavas, an the use of sepia washed frames to show the things Nanna does when the child isn’t present is a clever technique.

In hardcover with a gorgeous bright yellow cover, My Nanna is a Ninja is a celebration of non-conventional grandparents.


My Nanna is a Ninja, by Damon Young & Peter Carnavas
UQP, 2014
ISBN 9780702250095

Available from good bookstores and online.