Ninja Nate

by Markette Sheppard (Author) Robert Paul (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A boy adopting a ninja alter ego to cope with a new disability finds the courage to share all of himself in this action-packed and heartfelt picture book from the author of My Rainy Day Rocket Ship.

Nathaniel, or, as his friends call him, Ninja Nate, has been dressing like a ninja all summer long--even sleeping in his suit. And he doesn't plan on stopping for his first day of fifth grade, especially when he has been hiding his robotic leg under his ninja costume. His friends may know about his accident, but they've never seen the new him. What if they treat him differently?

With the help of his brother, Sensei Charlie, and ninja mom, Mama Mary, maybe Ninja Nate can be part boy, part robot, all Nathaniel!

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Kirkus Reviews

An upbeat introduction to limb difference.

School Library Journal

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.--Jillian Girardeau

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Markette Sheppard
Markette Sheppard is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and children's book author. Her bestselling debut book, What Is Light?, inspired children to discover the light within through everyday surroundings. Markette is also founder of The GLOW Brands, LLC, a media company aimed at illuminating perspectives around the world. She earned a master of arts degree in interactive journalism from American University in Washington, DC, and a bachelor's in communications and French from California State University Dominguez Hills. Markette lives in Maryland with her husband and son.

Charly Palmer, a graduate of the American Academy of Art, is a nationally recognized fine artist whose work is in private and public collections, including those of McDonald's Corporation, the Coca-Cola Company, and Vanderbilt University. His illustrative work for Mama Africa! earned him the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator of the Year award. Palmer's art is inspired by his children and grandchildren. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date
September 26, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV039150 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Special Needs
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / United S
People with disabilities

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