________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 37 . . . . June 2, 2017


Superhero Ninja Wrestling Star.

Lorna Schultz Nicholson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2017.
151 pp., trade pbk. & epub, $12.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4594-1196-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-1198-2 (epub).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

*** /4



Another lap? I was dying. But Shamini was beside me. I had to prove myself. I kept running. And running. The stars got bigger and bigger.

I kept running. My heart beat faster and faster and faster. And then I just couldn't breathe anymore. My chest was a ball of pain. My throat burned. My mouth was dry like someone had dumped sand in it. Stars now swam in front of me. And red circles. More red circles.

I had to stop. I just had to. So I did.

And a girl ran into me. "What'd you stop for?" she asked.

"I… I… can't breathe," I said. I bent over at the waist. My legs turned into gelatin and went totally wobbly. They buckled at the knees, and I fell to the ground.

I heard a voice say, "I think he fainted."

When Archie enters Grade 6 as a new school year begins, he feels like a misfit. Classmates seem to have moved on while nothing exciting has happened in his life. Worse, everybody else has grown while he remains small and skinny. He is particularly anxious to maintain Shamini's friendship but mistakenly feels he lacks the qualities she might now prefer in a friend. They have been best friends since kindergarten, but this summer Shamini has not only developed physically, but also in confidence. Archie can't believe she will want to keep her preschool promise to attend their first dance together. Desperate to impress her, and encouraged by good friend Alfie, Archie embarks on various enterprises including running, lifting weights, the Ninja crawl and eating dozens of chicken wings in one sitting. It takes many disasters before he discovers the satisfaction of wrestling which he really enjoys and realises he need only be himself to retain Shamini's friendship.

      Archie is an empathetic character, and readers aged 9-12 will readily identify with his self-consciousness and lack of esteem. Simultaneously, they will appreciate the humour in his frantic efforts to impress.

      With the realistic use of both internal and external dialogue, the author has made Archie an authentic, well-intentioned and realistic character who wrestles with his confidence issues. Supporting characters, Shamini and Alfie, are also depicted as worthwhile friends who care about Archie just as he is. Sadly, it takes a genuine act of bravery on Archie's part in standing up to two bullies threatening Shamini before he, too, recognizes his own worth.

      The book has ample symbolic black and white illustrations that break up the density of the text. Despite its slightly formulaic style, Superhero Ninja Wrestling Star is a fast, compelling read with an engaging plot, realistic dialogue, humorous situations and a solid encouraging resolution about being your own person and not trying to live up to the precepts of others.


Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian living in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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