Photo: Sanae Ishida
Talented new author Sanae Ishida, who has called Seattle home for 13 years, is releasing her first picture book this month. Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl is a unique story that encourages kids to practice and practice, even if it doesn’t always make perfect.
We chatted with Sanae about the inspiration for her picture book, shugyo, the commitment to persistently practice, and her next project.
SC: How did your daughter inspire Little Kunoichi?
Ishida: [When she was learning to skate], she had trouble… But she wouldn't give up and kept trying despite falling over and over and over. I loved her grit and wanted her to hold onto that perseverance.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't see a lot of books promoting the importance of hard work and just practicing.
How do you apply dedicated practice (shugyo) to your own interests?
I'm a huge believer in shugyo and good habits. I exercise and write daily. I sew an outfit every week and update my blog three times a week.
If I can squeeze in a 10-minute walk, I'll consider it exercise. Sometimes my writing sessions amount to less than 30 minutes; if I can manage to sew even one seam, I'll call it good. The important part for me is that I'm doing it regularly.
Photo courtesy of Sasquatch Books
How does working on your upcoming nonfiction book compare to writing a picture book?
The current book I'm working on has a lot of moving parts (writing, sewing, photography, pattern development) and is collaborative on a whole new level. I've been working with a number of wonderfully talented people.
I worked very closely with my editor on the picture book [for six months], but it was a solo venture on the whole. And I have to say, I loved that too.
I'm incredibly honored that I get to work on two vastly disparate yet still very-close-to-my heart projects.
Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl
Soft, hand-painted illustrations with delightful details, paired with a charming story of a little ninja and her new friend, make Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl (Sasquatch Books) an engaging read for all ages.
The first picture book from Seattle author Sanae Ishida introduces kids to Japanese language and culture as they meet sweet Little Kunoichi, who lives on a secret island where she goes to ninja school.
But Little Kunoichi is clumsy, and her throwing stars never seem to hit their targets. One day, she stumbles upon a hardworking small samurai in training. His persistence to reach his goals inspires her to keep practicing to achieve her own.
Kids who love to dive into details will find plenty to discover in the artwork, from a map to a ninja bunny hiding in the blossoms. If your child is curious about other cultures of the world, Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl is a great place to start.
The book launch party for Little Kunoichi is Sunday, May 10, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Queen Anne Book Company, 1811 Queen Anne Ave. N. There will be origami crafts and other fun activities for kids!