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Greg Farshtey is the author of over 40 novels and graphic novels, as well as the long-running BIONICLE(R) series and the animated BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn film. He has worked as a journalist, copywriter, and designer and is currently employed as Editorial Director for the LEGO Club. When he is not writing, Greg is usually playing with his baby daughter. He lives in Connecticut.
I was born in Westchester County, in NY, but grew up in southwestern CT and upstate NY. I graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in Communications. I have worked as a journalist, senior editor at a game company, and as a direct marketing copywriter. I have been working at LEGO Company since 2000 and am currently Editorial Director for LEGO Club. In the last 9 years, I have worked on the BIONICLE, Exo-Force, Ninjago and Hero Factory book series. When I am not writing, I like to cook, play piano, shop, and read. I am divorced, with a wonderful little girl who I love with all my heart, and a cat named Sapphire who takes care of making messes on the days my daughter is not home. :)
My almost six year old son loves Lego, especially Lego ninjago. I thought that this would be a fun book for him. The pictures are well done and I am sure he would like to look at them. I don't like the text though. There is not much of a good story and I consider it to graphic for his age. Citation from page 8: "He swung his samurai sword and one of the skeletons' head popped off. 'Ow!' Kai cried, as the skeleton bit his ankle. 'Bite this!' He kicked the skeleton head like a football. The other warriors clapped as the skull flew through the air.". My son might think it's "cool", but that is not the main factor I decide by. I don't see good reading in this and don't want to set him up for trashy literature that early, when I still have an influence on his taste. So instead of this book I recommend "Night of the Ninjas" from the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne. It does not have the colorful pictures and we have to read it to him for now, but it inspires imagination, is fun and educational.
I mail books to a 7 year old who HATES reading and writing like he hates nothing else in this universe. I send monster, zombie, and ninja books in an effort to show him that books can be delightful, not a painful chore. I have sent him half a dozen such books to date, but this is the one that prompted him to get in touch with me.
This went an ocean away, so I did not get to read it myself, but the child who hates, HATES reading and writing was so inspired that he (1) got really excited about the book (2) demanded an immediate reading from the adult in the house, as he had already done his mandatory 20 minutes of reading for the day, and (3) was inspired to write a thank you note that read:
Thank you for the Way of the Ninja book. I really, really like it. Could you please send me more wayoftheninja books?
(his spacing, not mine)
At this price, how could I refuse? I consider it a literary investment. Special thanks to Lego for having great readers and to Amazon for making them affordable to ship to Hawaii.
Update: He's 8 now, and reads without fighting about it. He reads to my 2-year-old niece voluntarily, and the two additional Lego Ninjago readers he got for his birthday were his favorite birthday gifts even though he got a lot of cool toys! I'm going to go ahead and declare victory, but if anyone knows of excellent products for reluctant writers, I'd love to hear them. (So far only Scribblenauts has encouraged a tiny bit of voluntary spelling/writing) He has completely caught up on reading in school (after being several years behind) and has made improvements in writing, but is still a bit behind.
Ninjago, ninjago, ninjago... That seems to be all I hear about from my 6 year old grandson these days. The world stops when a new Ninjago show is on TV, and he watches those same shows over and over again. Of course, we have to have the Ninjago minifigures and the Ninjago Lego sets. I'm waiting for the Lego Ninjago video game to come out, of course!
So how do you turn an all-encompassing passion into something at least slightly educational? A book! I was so happy when I saw these early readers!
I purchased Book #1 and #2 for my grandson's birthday (the big 6), and at first, he wasn't too enthused. But when it came to bedtime and I pulled out the new books, and we cuddled and read together - he was much more excited. And I can already see him sitting down by himself to read through the books on his own.
The books are geared towards first through third grade readers, I believe, and the story line runs hand in hand with the TV shows of the same name. My grandson is in Kindergarten, so some words are out of his reach, but because he is such a Ninjago fan, he worked at figuring out and sounding out the words he didn't know. Success!
If you have a little Ninjago fan in your house, don't hesitate with these books. It's nice to slide in an educational opportunity without the child fully realizing that's what you're doing... and you might just create a love of reading that he will have for his entire life. Here's hoping!
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My 7-year-old son is enthralled with Ninjago, so we decided to check into the books as well. I'm not crazy about the way the characters are portrayed. From a parent's perspective, I was hoping for stronger (more positive) role models, perhaps a life lesson, and skip the name calling ("old man" and "nitwit" for example). Not really a positive influence on an impressionable 7-year-old. IMHO, when it's good vs. evil, I'm hoping for a more obviously positive, courageous (not arrogant) role model. Will put the book away until he's older.
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From an adult perspective, all of these Ninjago books are terrible. Convoluted, boring, nonsensical stories with surprisingly little action. Dumb, irrelevant dialogue. No useful life lessons or role models. Weak, uninspiring main characters who aren't even good at martial arts (three of them get tied to a tree by two skeletons, and their Sensei can't even beat his nemesis' subordinate).
The series is incomplete and not even numbered, so it's impossible to follow the timeline. And what the hell is Ninjago anyway? A place? A way of life? Something you yell before you go into battle? You guessed it - all three.
Inexplicably, however, my five year-old twins (boy/girl) claim to love them. Even my daughter chooses them over Pinkalicious (I think she has a crush on Jay).
In short, you'll hate the books, but your kids might like them, so I suggest you buy them only if your kids can read them by themselves.