This coming Saturday (December 5) is International Ninja Day. Don’t worry if you didn’t realize; it tends to sneak up on you. That’s why it pays to be prepared. As part of our new Make / Play / Watch / Read series, we have four suggestions to help you celebrate the Art of the Ninja. Four different ways to celebrate pop-culture ninjas across every age group.
Make: Ninja Cookies
Let’s start with something really easy: cookies decorated as ninjas. You can do this with any basic rolled cookie recipe (or packaged cookies). The fun here is with the icing. You are going to need some ready-to-roll fondant icing in black and white. You can make black by adding black food coloring to white fondant but trust me when I say it is A LOT easier if you have ready-made black.
Once your cookies have cooled, take some black icing and roll it out to about ¼-inch thickness. Using the same cookie cutter for your cookies, cut out circle shapes from the icing. Paint the underside of the icing shape with a little water and stick it to the cookie.
Take the white fondant icing, roll it out the same way, and cut out some ellipses to create the eye-slits in the ninja hood. Paste them to the black icing with a little water.
Now, for the final details: you can either use black writing icing or the black fondant. Create eyes and eyebrows on the white icing. And there you go! Ninja cookies! You better make a double batch; these treats will disappear faster than … well, ninjas.
Play: Tiny Ninjas (Tabletop Game)
Finding ninja-themed games is as difficult as finding ninjas themselves. Sure, there are plenty of LEGO: Ninjago themes and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles keep popping up everywhere. I like a bit more of a challenge. Something a little subtle and sneaky. You know, like a ninja.
Tiny Ninjas was so sneaky, I almost missed its second Kickstarter offering. Good news is you can still access the “Late Pledge” option for the latest ninja-style game, Tiny Ninjas: Heroes. The original game, Tiny Ninjas, was a huge success on Kickstarter and reviewed by GeekDad Jonathon in 2019 (you can read his detailed review here). The short summary is:
It’s a dice-throwing card game for 1 or 2 players. Each battle takes around 10-15 minutes and is played using the box as the game board (I’m always a fan of simplicity). Players start with 5 cards each, using one card each turn to attack or defend. The cards tell you what to roll with the dice and the consequences of your action. It sounds so so simple but it carries a HUGE potential of strategy and gameplay. The box says ages 8+, with variations available within the game. What I love about this is the neat packaging and tray-layout for gameplay; perfect for keeping things compact and neat. I also love the potential for solo-gameplay. Sure it is fun battling wits with a worthy foe but I also appreciate a few games for the kids to learn how to play by themselves.
At the time of publishing, Tiny Ninjas and the latest version Tiny Ninjas: Heroes were both available through late-Kickstarter pledges on their web page here. Games will also become available on Amazon in Canada and USA but not anywhere else.
Watch: Batman Ninja
Batman Ninja is everything you could ever want if Batman was produced as Anime. Honestly, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! It is a perfect suggestion for International Ninja Day; bringing something new to the choices available while still having just enough familiarity to hold on to. It is only around 90-minutes long but if you go in with absolutely no expectations beyond Batman and ninjas, then you’re in for a magnificent ride.
Thanks to some weird contraption from Gorilla Grodd, Batman and all his cohorts are sent back in time to Feudal Japan. Unfortunately, Batman hits a lag and arrives about a year or so after everyone else. All the usual suspects are here: The Joker, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Bane, and many more. Each is presented in a style true to the art of Japanese Anime while keeping in character. Seeing the blend of samurai armour in purples and green is simply *chef’s kiss*.
Are there ninjas? You bet your Batarang! Isn’t Batman the perfect personification of all things ninja? And naturally, there is plenty of fighting; it is Batman AND Anime. In saying that, Batman Ninja is rated PG-13, with some suggestive material and violence. In our family: 14-year-old will love it, 11-year-old will probably (new interest in anime), 7-year-old will not. If you can, watch in in the original Japanese version (with subtitles if your Japanese language skills are a bit rusty). Batman Ninja is currently available on Netflix.
Read: Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! written by Todd Tuell, illustrated by Tad Carpenter
This is a firm favorite in our family and perfect for the younger ninjas in your family. It is a simple kids book about a young ninja, sneaking around and looking for adventure. I love reading this aloud with my 7-year-old daughter because it naturally highlights the rhyming pattern with the actions of the main character. The bright colors and imagery give the book an adorable feel. Yes, I am sure the traditional ninjas would hate being referred to as ‘adorable’ but this is one of the few books to show the skills while keeping it light enough for young kids. This book is all about encouraging kids to include their imaginations and passions in everyday life. And if that means encouraging them to sneak around to avoid ‘Granny kisses’, then so is the way of the ninja.
Each week, we will share ideas on what to Make / Play / Watch / Read. Make can be anything in the kitchen, on the craft table, with cosplay, or in the tool shed. Play covers all games, both video and tabletop. Watch will be for suggestions of TV shows and movies. Read is for the collection of books, including graphic novels and non-fiction. The goal is to share ideas based on a different theme, spanning across various age groups. And, as always, we would love to read any suggestions you have in the comments below.