Ninja Nate

S. & S./Denene Millner. Sept. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534476929.
PreS-Gr 1–Nathaniel loves ninjas and has been dressing like one all summer; all of his friends have started calling him Ninja Nate. But Nate’s friends don’t know the real reason he’s been wearing his ninja costume. Over the summer, Nate lost his leg in an accident and wears prosthetic, using a cane to walk. Nate is nervous about his first day of fifth grade. Will his friends treat him differently? Nate’s older brother and parents help him to regain confidence and find a happy medium between Ninja Nate and Nathaniel. With the help of his friends at school and the encouragement of his family, Nate finds that taking off his mask isn’t as bad as he thought. Sheppard’s choice not to reveal Nate’s disability right away allows readers to connect with him as a character without defining him by his disability. However, this choice also leaves the story feeling a little disjointed. The loving support shown to Nate by his parents and older brother is a high point. Paul’s comic-style illustrations add excitement to the story and play into the ninja theme. Overall, a decent pick for children living with a disability or for classroom discussions on disability.
VERDICT The quick acceptance of Nate by his classmates serves as a wonderful example of celebrating differences in a diverse school environment. Recommended for libraries lacking disability representation in their collections. Otherwise, an additional purchase.

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