Two Good Things About Today,
One Including a Ninja, a Cowboy, and a Bear

h1 September 17th, 2009 by jules

Here are my two good things about today:

First, I get to hear Mary Oliver do a reading tonight at Belmont University. An exclamation mark here would hardly contain my happiness about this.

Secondly, I’ve got some art to share with you from Hilary Leung. This is, evidently, his picture book debut, though he’s a graphic designer and illustrator whose work has been published all over the world. This is from a little book from Kids Can Press (September ’09) called The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear by David Bruins, first-time author. The book’s charms and dry humor won me over. It’s about three friends—you guessed it: a ninja, a cowboy, and a bear—whose unique talents come between them one day. They very simply start to wonder who is better than the other, and all kinds of competitions are arranged to see who will excel. The book closes with a statement about how we each have our special talents; I think, without that, kids will have figured this out from the engaging tale itself, but the book is so winning in every other way that even that heavy-handed ending starts to look sort of old-skool adorable to me. And, really, the book had me at its premise: That a bear, a cowboy, and a ninja hang out every day. In the opening spread, they’re reading together, painting, playing board games, rockin’ out, flying kites, and looking for shapes in the clouds, the ninja all decked out in his black ninja gear and the cowboy kickin’ it with his best Lank Thompson smile.

(I see they even have their own site and that the ninja, naturally, dislikes bright lights; the cowboy, sushi; and the bear, being hungry.)

Leung’s illustrations are digital, “a perfect blend of Saturday-morning cartoon and manga,” wrote Kirkus, “and much of the humor is contained within their play off the deadpan text.” Fortunately, since I’m a stickler anymore about including art in these types of post so that the art can speak for itself, why…I’ll let the art speak for itself. So, here we go. Click each spread to enlarge (but just slightly).

And P.S.: The book closes with the NINJA COWBOY BEAR game, not unlike “rock/paper/scissors” but involving you getting up off your keister to strike a ninja or cowboy or bear pose. Now tell me, how fun is that?


“Afterwards, the three friends were confused. They still did not know who was the best. Frustrated, they parted ways. The ninja spent time in quiet meditation.”


“The bear consulted with a wise old friend. And the cowboy took to the hills.”


“And soon, they each realized something very important. The ninja appreciated the bear’s great strength. The bear wondered at the cowboy’s precision and accuracy. The cowboy was in awe of the ninja’s agility…”

* * * * * * *

Selection from The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear by David Bruins and illustrated by Hilary Leung reprinted by permission of Kids Can Press Ltd., Toronto. Text copyright © 2009 David Bruins. Illustrations copyright © 2009 Hilary Leung.

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4 comments to “Two Good Things About Today,
One Including a Ninja, a Cowboy, and a Bear”

  1. Oh, MAN, I love that ninja. The truth is, I’ve always kind of wanted to be a ninja.


  2. That book looks incredibly cute! I want to get that for my kids’ library.


  3. Adrienne, I was going to say the same, but then I realized I HAVE been a ninja. It has to do with trying to sneak out of bed in such a succesfully ninja-like way so as not to wake the child sleeping there who refuses to sleep in her own bed. I had to be a serious ninja when Piper was a baby/toddler, but we won’t get into her sleeping habits then. Let’s just be glad it’s passed.

    Glad you both like this one. It cracks me up, and methinks Adrienne needs to read it in story time.


  4. [...] else remember this 2009 title from Kids Can Press? Take a moment, if you’re so inclined, to re-read that post and take in [...]


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