Ninja's Carnival


24 pages
ISBN 0-920813-63-1
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Farida Zaman
Reviewed by Deborah Dowson

Deborah Dowson is a children’s librarian in Pickering, Ontario.


On the eve of the West Indian Carnival Day, 8-year-old Ninja lies in bed
in an apartment in a snowy city, thinking of the previous year’s
carnival, which he witnessed at his grandmother’s home in Trinidad.
The memory becomes a dream, and the dream becomes real as Ninja gets
carried away by the music and the revellers. When Ninja wakes to find
himself back in his apartment he cannot believe he has been dreaming as
it has seemed so real.

The text is descriptive and almost poetic in places, but awkward breaks
in continuity, especially in the dream sequence, make it difficult to
follow. It is not immediately apparent where Ninja is when he begins to
dream. His feelings are also a little difficult to comprehend: for
example, “The whole world was turned upside down. Ninja felt safe and
secure.” It is not clear what made him feel safe when he went out
alone at night in the company of unknown adults dressed in all manner of
unusual costumes.

The contemporary illustration feature the carnival revellers and Ninja
dancing, or pictured in his bed in his room. (I wonder if watercolor was
the best medium for the pictures, given the extravagant atmosphere of
calypso and carnival.)

The book fills a cultural need, as it touches on the regret the boy
feels at being away from Trinidad and the longing he has for the
different sights, sounds, and tastes of carnival there. Overall,
however, it’s not a first-choice purchase.


Espinet, Ramabai., “Ninja's Carnival,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,