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Nighttime Ninja

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  843 ratings  ·  172 reviews
Late at night, when all is quiet and everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps silently through the house in search of treasure. Soon he reaches his ultimate goal...and gets a big surprise! Will the nighttime ninja complete his mission?
With spare text and lush illustrations, Nighttime Ninja is a fun, adventure-filled story about the power of play and imagination.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Little, Brown (first published September 1st 2012)
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*Queen Diva*
Actual rating: 2.5

Barbara DaCosta lives near me so I really want to give her a shining review, however the book didn't meet my expectations. I can't really say what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. However, I can totally relate to the nighttime ninja... when I was little my mom says I used to wake up in the middle of the night and eat all the cheese in the fridge! Haha!

The book is alright. The illustrations are creative and different and the story is cute. My expectations were just a little
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kalee Stegehuis
This review first published at

I LOVED this book! I can be a critical reader, but this one had me completely engaged. I spent a few minutes on each page because I thoroughly enjoyed the illustrations and the suspense of the story. It doesn’t contain many words, but it’s still a book you can spend a while reading to kids because the illustration is so mystifying.

My favorite aspect of this book is the relationship between the visual and verbal narratives. Th
Cute papercut illustrations -- very minimal text (would be a short one for story time, there's a lot of wordless pages), but would be a cute short book for a story time interlude. I'm glad there's more ninja books being published -- I have some small patrons who have read EVERY ninja picture book a thousand times, so it's good to see a new one.
Jessica Gilligan
DaCosta; Young. (2012). Nighttime Ninja. Little, Brown and Company: New York.

Picture Book: Choice

2013 ALA Notable Children's Book; Reviewed in Publisher's Weekly

This book is about a little boy who pretends he is a ninja and is stealthily moving about the house after bedtime in search of the prize-ice cream. The artwork is a rich tapestry using cut paper, textured cloth, string and color pencil as the media. The text is really simple, with only a sentence or sentence fragment per page. I think it
Kianna Buckner
"Nighttime Ninja" was a great book. A little boy is dressed as a ninja and he is on a mission around the house. He is suppose to be sleep. He get caught when his mom finds him around the house and tells him to go back to sleep.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I like how the author used very few words. I think young boys in the grades of kindergarten-3rd will really enjoy this because a lot of boys that age are really into ninjas. They will connect with the little boy in the story.

The illustr
K picked this book up at his school library.
So I read this at bedtime and I thought okay Nighttime ninja what could it be about. But I was kind of disappointed. When we start out you are seeing a ninja what looks like to be climbing a wall, but at the end you realize the ninja is a boy who was going after something he wanted when everyone was a sleep. So I was a bit like umm okay? I think it would have been better if we saw him sneak out of his room, roll past his parent's bedroom door, creep d
This Panda Award Nominee didn't disappoint yesterday with P2s or today with PYellow. It was suspenseful all the way through!
Nearly wordless, this is a fun read aloud. The illustrations are marvelous and tell most of the story.
DaCosta, Barbara (2012). Nighttime Ninja. New York: Little Brown and Company.

K-2nd Grade Book of the Year at the Children's Choice Book Awards

Choice Book

I highly enjoyed this book. The artwork, made from cut paper, textured cloth, string and colored pencils; make this book not only enjoyable but and exceptional choice. The Nighttime Ninja comes out after midnight when everyone else in the house is sleeping. He is on a mission. A mission for what? Who is this Ninja? I'm not going to spoil this on
Sassy School Counselor
I adore this book. It's sneaky and fun because it's a great mystery. I love that you can guess and come up with tons of ideas of what the nighttime ninja is doing. My plan is to use this as an icebreaker this year. After I introduce the book we will brainstorm/chart our guesses as to the nighttime ninja's mission. After reading it we can re-read and see if there were any clues we missed. Then students will create their own nighttime ninja doing something they did over the summer. We will then gu ...more
Feb 26, 2014 Jess rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: kiddos
Suspense for the picture book crowd. If your kid likes it, this is the sort of book you read on repeat.

In her author's note, Barbara DaCosta admits to being a nighttime ninja herself. Too bad the one here isn't a girl. I mean really.

Reminded me of Seven Blind Mice which of course it should because it's illustrated by Ed Young. Way to read all the title page info, Jess. :)
What is a ninja anyway? The dictionary states: (Japanese) a member of the ninja who were trained in martial arts and hired for espionage, sabotage or assassinations; a person skilled in Ninjutsu. (They sound scary to me. Don't mess with them.)

This book is a children's adventure/thriller with a great surprise ending! A ninja goes on a very suspenseful mission...lights one awake....all quiet...into his kitchen!

The book is full of wonderful verbs and gentle, quiet action words that perfect
Amy Musser
In the dark of the night the ninja creeps and climbs, crawls and leaps through the house. Everyone is asleep as he slips from shadow to shadow. As he takes up his tools to work, the lights flash on and his mother appears! Even though the ninja protests that he hasn’t finished his (ice cream eating) mission, his mother has another idea, “Well, how about a getting-back-into-bed mission?”

The sparse text has a suspenseful feeling and readers will think they are reading a story about a real ninja rig
Kathryn (Nine Pages)
The text itself is sparse and is somewhat eclipsed. The mixed-media illustrations in this book are true stars, quickly capturing the attention with a thrilling adventure. Perhaps the merest bit too cluttered, they illustrate the protagonist as a sleek ninja all in black, who scales walls with grappling hooks and creeps into compounds. The story seems to pick up mid-adventure, an unusual and refreshing beginning to a picture book, where the concept of "once upon a time" seems to more firmly hold ...more
Annette Ruane
I like the lay out of this book, the style of this book, and the illustrations of this book better then I like the actual story of this book. The cover of this book is intriguing with just the ninja eyes poking out of the dark. I liked how I had to turn the book vertical a few times to read it and see the full picture, I think this is engaging to the reader and allows them to not get bored while reading. I loved how the texture of the pages switched back and forth between glossy and matt. I beli ...more
Miss Kate Reads
This is a sweet book about imagination and adventure. The illustrations were actually made from cut paper and objects giving the book a very textured appearance and "feel" (the book does have two different textures on the cover). Overall this book was very charming but it also left me feeling like I wished it was just a little bit longer as though it wasn't quite finished - not that the ending was incomplete or unsatisfying; the book just didn't feel like it was quite long enough and felt like i ...more
My five-year-old son picked this book out from the library last week.

This book is adorable. And relatable. My son knows all about nighttime stealth skills. Only when I ask him what he has or is doing, he doesn't respond with "nothing"; he says, "You don't want to know."

The illustrations were perfect. The added just the right amount of mystery and atmosphere.
This book would have been a five if it was longer. It's art work of textured paper and collage paper was really interestin. The patterns were unique and foreign and I appreiciated that. Pick this one up and take sixty seconds to read it in your library. The story is a bit simple, but the art work and use of phography really merited a Four-Star.


I like the concept of the illustrations. I saw the Scholastic video with the illustrator, and the students and I found it interesting.
However, the book didn't measure up to our interest. There could have been a few more hints along the way. The kids had no clue what was going on at first....and neither did I.
Synopsis: "Late at night, when all is quiet and everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps silently through the house in search of treasure. Soon he reaches his ultimate goal...and gets a big surprise! Will the nighttime ninja complete his mission?
With spare text and lush illustrations, Nighttime Ninja is a fun, adventure-filled story about the power of play and imagination."

My Review: A cute story about stealing through the house in the middle of the night with a special goal in mind. I didn't really l
Marissa Reyes
The text Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta had a childlike storyline in which children can relate closely with because every child has had the experience of sneaking through the dark corridors of ones home without stirring their sleeping parents in order to get away with a late night snack. This book caught my attention because of the illustration on the cover, however, as I began to flip through the text the illustrations were a disappointment and did not do the story justice. I am not impress ...more
I did not care for the illustrations or the story. This book starts off with a ninja breaking into the house. You soon discover who the ninja is and well, that's it. Even my son didn't care for this book. He didn't think it was funny or silly at all.
My kids just really liked this. It's cute. It certainly was not what I was expecting, and I think that is where most of the fun is: the surprise. I like that is wasn't obvious-- that you were with the boy in his mission, in his creative mind-- that you don't see him prowling through the house. So well done, and I think it was perfect.
A young ninja goes on a mission at midnight. Pages of illustrations show how he climbs, sneaks and moves toward his target. Then he gets out his tools…and the lights turn on. His mom catches him eating a midnight snack and sends him back to bed.

The story is simple and concise…just like a ninja’s moves. The illustrations are great. The shadow of a ninja goes over brilliant textures and shapes. I especially like the ninja’s silhouette over the full moon with the bamboo leaves in the foreground. An
A Publisher's Weekly Best Book of 2012.
Caldecott contender? (Yes! - Ed Young wrote and illustrated "The House Babba Built.")

"Nighttime Ninja," written by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young, is the story of a nighttime ninja on a mission. Both he and the reader get surprises in this book. The text is sparse here so the beautiful illustrations ("done in cut paper, textured cloth, string, and colored pencil") tell as much of the story as the text. Both author and illustrator do a nice job
My 1st grade students love ninjas! So when I told them we were going to preview a book together about ninjas, they went crazy! We went through "ninjas" with a fine tooth comb. We talked about the super cool cover and the stealthy ninja moves on the end pages. We talked about the author's intent in having some pages with text and others without. They really liked Nighttime Ninja but I think they wanted more. It's not the author's fault. She has created this book as a bedtime story..not necessaril ...more
Ed Young's collage illustrations are wonderful. The ninja looks so stealthy and quite. And then he is caught by his mother. Oops! A funny story about being up past your bedtime.
Barbara DaCosta
Nov 26, 2012 Barbara DaCosta rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Disclosure: I am the author...for those interested, here is the link for our website, where there are kids' activities, reviews, and appearances: visit

"DaCosta crafts her spare text carefully and with humor.... The depth of feeling Da Costa and Young give to the boy’s fantasy makes this a standout." --- Publishers Weekly

"Succinct language full of vivid verbs describing the action sets the mood for Young’s lushly textured illustrations...." ---Kirkus Reviews
Beautiful paper-cut illustrations, many of them wordless. Not the most ambitious story out there, but cute, and a good teaching aid for small children.
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Vote for Nighttime Ninja! 1 2 Apr 17, 2013 09:56AM  
Introducing Nighttime NInja 2 4 Dec 23, 2012 07:31PM  
  • hello! hello!
  • A Home for Bird
  • Oh, No!
  • More
  • Chloe and the Lion
  • Black Dog
  • Sleep Like a Tiger
  • Boot & Shoe
  • Step Gently Out
  • One Special Day: A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters
  • I'm Bored
  • Baby Bear Sees Blue
  • Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad
  • Charley's First Night
  • Up, Tall, and High!
  • Penguin and Pinecone
  • Good News, Bad News
  • Red Knit Cap Girl
From lighthearted children's books to adult mysteries, Barbara DaCosta enjoys looking at the odd, quirky things in life. DaCosta's debut children's picture book is Nighttime Ninja, illustrated by Caldecott Award-winner Ed Young (Little, Brown 2012). DaCosta's short stories for grownups have been featured in such places as Resort to Murder and Why Did Santa Leave a Body?
More about Barbara DaCosta...
Resort to Murder: Thirteen More Tales of Mystery by Minnesota's Premier Writers

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