You may be surprised to learn that December 5th is the International Day of the Ninja – in fact, the ninjas of the world would be disappointed if you weren’t. After all, these ancient Japanese warriors and spies have a reputation to uphold, and it doesn’t involve giving advance notice of when they’re about to strike from the shadows.
Although their strict adherence to the way of invisibility poses obvious problems for ninja public relations, the shinobi have devised many stealthy ways of raising public awareness of ninja issues. Ninja education is always lurking just out of sight, waiting to strike when least expected. They have even infiltrated the shelves of the World’s Only Curious George Store!
In Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures: The Japanese Ninja Surprise, the two-dimensional boy mails himself to Japan to meet his favorite martial-arts movie star. When he arrives, he has a great time seeing the country with his idol — but soon finds himself embroiled in an action-packed adventure! Does Stanley have what it takes to become a ninja himself?
This fast-paced story is suitable for ages 6-10, and includes an afterword with lots of fun facts about real-life ninjas and Japanese culture. Sure to be a hit with aspiring young ninjas and fans of Stanley’s other adventures.
For a look at ninjas in their original habitat, The Magic Tree House: Night of the Ninjas sends time-traveling duo Jack and Annie back to feudal Japan, where they discover a ninja master’s hideout and become his apprentices. Can they learn the ways of the ninja in time to escape the villainous samurai warriors who are hot on their heels?
The Magic Tree House series is a great way to get beginning readers interested in history and science. Each book features memorable characters and exciting plots, while stealthily exposing them to information that will — like an educational ninja! — whet their appetite for learning more about the real-life places and time periods featured in the stories.
Of course, most ninjas are too busy practicing ninjutsu to spend time learning English, so it is a good idea to know some Japanese if you ever meet one. What better place to start than with alphabet blocks? (They’re especially handy if you have any very young ninjas in your life.) Uncle Goose’s set of handsome wooden Japanese blocks features the full hiragana syllabary, as well as numbers and animal names. You can even put the blocks together as a puzzle, forming a map of Japan!
Uncle Goose also makes an assortment of wooden blocks for other languages, including Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, German, Spanish, French, and even English.
You can find all these books and toys at the World’s Only Curious George Store, in Harvard Square — there may even be others lying in wait to surprise you!