Book review: Samurai vs Ninja

Samurai vs Ninja The Battle for the Golden Egg by Nick Falk, illustrated by Tony Flowers (Random House)
PB RRP $9.00
ISBN 9780857986054
Reviewed by Jaquelyn Muller 

Reproduced with the permission of Buzz Words

If only the Samurai vs Ninja book series was around 30 years ago, then my brother may have spent more time reading about clumsy, fighting, farting ancient Japanese warriors and less time pretending to be one, and practicing the aforementioned unsavory behaviour on me. 

Nick Falk and Tony Flowers have created a striking, fast-paced, snort-inducing book series for early readers, six and up. Beginning with The Battle for the Golden Egg, readers are introduced to samurai leader, Kingyo-Sama and the head of the ninja, Buta-Sama, who are constantly battling each other in the most ridiculous and smelliest of ways. They also happen to be brothers, which will have an instant appeal to young readers who have spent many a day dueling with siblings over the last piece of pizza or the front seat of the car. 

With a highly visual tone, Nick Falk has cleverly downplayed the battle sequences using unusual and hilarious ways to convey the frustration and competition between the two main characters. Paths of wasabi planted in underpants, stinky seafood careering over walls in moments of attack and tickling feet as a form of torture go hand in hand with nonsense name calling. 

What this over-exaggerated phrasing creates is a wonderful procession of alliteration and tongue-twisters which is such a valuable reading tool for younger audiences. The use of Japanese terms and glossary at the back of the book also enrich the variety of the text and opportunities for learning. 

Descriptions of the era, costumes, architecture and armour are cleverly enhanced by Tony Flowers’ comic styled illustrations that maintain the interest of the reader, in the way I remember The Adventures of Asterix.  

Nick Falk is the author of the Saurus Street and Billy is a Dragon book series’ and the picture book, Troggle the Troll. As a specialist in Japanese influenced illustration, Tony Flowers was awarded a prize from the Oshima Picture Book Museum in Toyama, Japan, for his hand made pop-up book Gaijin Holiday. He has also illustrated six books in the Nick Falk Saurus Street series. 

The series continues with The Race for the Shogun’s Treasure and two more installments are due for release in July 2015.