Friday, August 15, 2014

Tao The Little Samurai: Ninjas and Knock Outs! by Laurent Richard, art by Nicolas Ryser

This is a new comic strip collection imported from France. I ended up looking at the second volume, but it doesn't seem to make any difference as it's basically a collection of individual stories, one per page. Typically, each story is labelled with a wise saying, for example, "The wise man reflects, the madman climbs" accompanies a story showing Tao complaining as he races up five flights of stairs in order not to be late for class....only to discover that his class was on the first floor. More stories include Tao's mishaps in class, battles against rival schools and villains, and his misadventures in love.

The art is colorful with lots of excited speech bubbles, movement, and gags. The pervading color scheme is mostly yellows and browns, with some blue-themed stories that happen around the water. As you can see on the cover, the class of samurai students is quite diverse. It's obviously a fantasy Japan as Tao has a shaved head and wrapped tail of hair, his best friend is blonde, his love interest appears to be Indian with darker skin and a caste mark, and there also are characters who appear to be stereotypical Chinese.

I'm a bit conflicted about this title. On the one hand, it's quite funny, kids love the comic strip books, and with Lego Ninjago there's a lot of interest in fantasy-ninjas. On the other hand, I wonder how stereotyped/potentially offensive it is (not a culture I know a great deal about, so I can't really tell) and it's from Lerner so the choice is either paperbacks or library bound at over $20 apiece.

Verdict: If you are looking for more light comic reading, it might be worth trying these out in paperback, which I think is what I might do. Otherwise, I'd probably pass on these.

ISBN: 9781467732727; Published 2014 by Lerner; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

No comments: