Hattori Hachi: The Revenge of Praying Mantis by Jane Prowse
|Hattori Hachi: The Revenge of Praying Mantis by Jane Prowse|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: A likeable heroine and a strong message about friendship, standing up for yourself, and only fighting as a last resort make this a great read. Jane Prowse popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: July 2009|
|Publisher: Piccadilly Press|
|External links: Author's website|
When Hattori Hachi's mother disappears, she's plunged into a whole new life. Because Hattori is the Golden Child, and suddenly the strange training rituals her mother always insisted on her taking part in without telling her dad are starting to make rather more sense... Aided by her friends Mad Dog and Neena and the laundry lady from downstairs, can Hattie overcome the feared ninja warrior Praying Mantis to rescue her mother? She'll have to watch her back - because enemies can be found where you least expect them!
I think there are a few other YA books out there about ninjas, but this is the first I've read and I really enjoyed it. Prowse's explanation of ninjutsu is clear and her crisp prose makes the action scenes really exciting, but the real strength here is the characterisation, particularly of the supporting cast. Mad Dog, a troubled boy from the Foundry care home which Hattie's mother had been involved with, and Neena, who's not really cut out for the ninja stuff but does her best to be a loyal helper anyway, are particularly well-drawn, while Hattie herself is a likeable heroine.
It's also a book with a really strong message about standing up for yourself but only fighting when it's absolutely necessary, and about the nature of friendship and trying to get along with people you don't necessarily immediately warm to. It's thought-provoking and a far cry from the mindless action of some similar books. Similarly, Hattie's journey through the dans of ninjutsu is very believable, being slow enough to convey the amount of effort she's needing to put into it - rather than the instant success you occasionally find to move the plot along in some books like this - yet never boring. It also helps that Mad Dog's progress is in marked contrast to hers and this shows how difficult it is to achieve her goal. Oh, one last strong point - I love Camden Town, and found it a brilliant location for Hattie's adventures, with Prowse describing it really well.
The book ends on something of a cliffhanger and I look forward to reading more about Hattie - thankfully I already have book 2, Stalking The Enemy, while book 3 is set to be released later in 2012.
Here at The Bookbag we really enjoyed The Way of the Warrior (Young Samurai) by Chris Bradford and I think fans of Hattori would definitely like that one.
Jane Prowse was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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