David Bruins and Hilary Leung’s “The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear” is a cute book filled with lovely pictures and awesome characters. There are very few things as epic as a ninja, cowboy or bear, but put them together in the same book about competition, friendship and diversity, and you get one of the best children books in Kids Can Press’ arsenal.
The illustrations are adorable (my favourite page is the one where Ninja catches the rabbits), and there is certainly a unique and recognizable art style. One of the fun features in this book is the how-to instructions on playing the Ninja-Cowboy-Bear game, a sort of Rock-Paper-Scissors but with the use of the whole body for active fun.
Despite it being so obviously awesome, I do have to say that as an adult, I did find it incomplete at times. The illustrations carry the narrative. This is good for some children (ages 4-6, according to the Kids Can Press website), but I remember great written narratives in my childhood, like Franklin and Berenstain Bears. I do like heavier text in my picture books, but “The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear” certainly appeals to children, not only in the illustrations and large font, but also because it’s hardcover and durable.
I recommend this book because of the beautiful artwork and the uniqueness of the premise.