How many times have you ever lamented doing something simply because someone else told you to do it? Nobody likes being told what to do all the time, but children are in the unique position of learning how to become successful humans and therefore are often guided in specific directions by their parents. In Ronin Cleans his Room Like a Ninja, the primary character begins to see that he can help mitigate how often his parents tell him what to do by changing his approach to life.
Ronin is a young boy who enjoys playing video games and spending time doing exciting things with his friends. While his parents are on a cruise, Ronin’s Uncle Max is in charge; Ronin doesn’t mind this so much since he thinks his Uncle Max is pretty cool. One day, Ronin shares his desire to be a ninja with Uncle Max, who introduces Ronin to the concept of discipline and how true ninjas must master this skill in every aspect of their lives. Seeing his experience through a different lens helps Ronin to approach previously banal activities from a new angle. Please see my full review here.
This was the first dynamic graphic novel I have read on Kindle, and I found the approach to be really interesting. Instead of everything laid out on flat spreads, each frame is brought to the forefront of the reader’s attention as the “pages” are turned. Alternating between text and images, these visuals keep readers focused on one thing at a time which can help improve understanding and attention. Sometimes, the corresponding visual appears before the text, and other times it is shown after, so readers have to pay attention to ensure full comprehension.
The illustrations are digitally rendered, featuring a limited color palette, clean lines, and repeated imagery. Many of the frames focus specifically on Ronin’s facial expressions as his emotions are described by the text. Whenever a particular feeling is mentioned, the visual is identical to all other references of that feeling, helping to better connect certain emotions to their corresponding facial representation. Interestingly, Uncle Max’s full face is never shown, which helps guide readers’ attention to Ronin with Uncle Max as a wise, sensei-like leader.
Young readers will learn important lessons from Ronin’s story through the unique presentation of this graphic novel. Discipline is a critical life skill, and this book approaches this concept in an engaging way. I’m looking forward to seeing more stories laid out similarly to this book, as it is an approach that will reach a wide demographic of readers.
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