Nick Falk (text), Tony Flowers (illus.), The Battle For the Golden Egg (Samurai vs Ninja #1), Random House, 1 April 2015, 83pp., $9.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780857986054
First in this series by this unstoppable author – illustrator duo is the spirited, Japanese-flavoured, battle action with a classic case of sibling rivalry in The Battle For the Golden Egg.
In the period of the Edo, within the walls of their humorously labeled castles, dwell the equally apt warriors and competitive brothers; the serious, up-tight Kingyo-Sama (Master Goldfish) with his samurai, and the foolish, sneaky Buta-Sama (Master Pig) with his ninja. A challenge to win the title of the greatest warriors, and the prized Golden Egg, sees the diffident, cunning ninjas resort to some rather unfair (spicy and uncomfortable) play to claim their victory. The samurais’ delicious gourmet plan of attack for the ultimate revenge fails when the ninjas come up with their own malicious plot. But the battle between these ancient warriors is far from over…
With ten short chapters, simple sentences, varied layouts and sharp humour, the antics of these characters are engaging enough to hook in even the most reluctant of readers. The dispersed black and white illustrations are as witty as the plot is skittish, although the identities appear more Westernised than oriental.
The inclusion of Japanese terms adds meaning and depth to an otherwise plainly funny take on the actions of ancient warriors in a historical and cultural setting. This is an ideal book for independent early readers, and particularly those who love a good prank.
Reviewed by Romi Sharp