Review by Joey Madia
When I was a boy, I was lucky enough to have a giant finished basement in which to play. My grandfather, a talented wood-worker, made my brother and me a big toy box (you had to be careful, because if you didn’t lock the hinges, the heavy lid came down on your head while you were digging to the bottom for some action figure you needed RIGHT NOW). After a long day of active imagination and deep-immersion play (which I never outgrew: I am a writer, actor, and content creator), it was then time to clean up.
Uh-oh! What a mess! Hundreds of toys spread throughout the room and my Dad on his way home from another long, frustrating day at work.
Suddenly, it was a shift from the free-reign of imagination to the discipline of having to follow the rules in a hurry. My solution? I would take two of my father’s barstools (the cool kind, with circular seats that swiveled) and drag them over to the toy box. Instant garbage truck! I would pick up my toys as if they were the neighborhood trash, placing them in the back of the garbage truck/toy box while I blasted some KISS, Zeppelin, and Rush.
This combination of free-reign imagination coupled with self-discipline is the core theme of Ronin Cleans His Room like a Ninja. The author, Chris Roy, definitely practices what he preaches: he is a boxing trainer (as well as an accomplished author and tattoo artist).
The setup is this: Ronin’s parents go away, leaving him to do his chores. Ronin, as most boys his age, is less than thrilled. On top of his displeasure about doing his chores, he hates to be TOLD to do them—or ANYTHING. And his parents tell him EVERYTHING: when to bathe, when to eat, when to clean his room…
So, like Max in Where the Wild Things Are, Ronin instead retreats into a fantasy world where he is in charge and living large… as a Ninja. As he is happily “Hiy-aaahing!” on his bed, chores ignored, we meet Uncle Max (who is maybe an homage to that “other” Max).
Uncle Max is the cool uncle… I had several of those (being Italian, some of my favorite uncles weren’t blood-relatives, but my father’s closest friends). Uncle Max, ala Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid, brings up the subject of Discipline. More importantly, self-discipline. After all, what is a stealthy, skilled, lethal killing machine of a Ninja without self-discipline?
Through the rest of the book, Max displays some impressive skills of his own, enticing Ronin to make a ninja-skill game out of cleaning his room. Just as important, Max helps Ronin to realize that the best way to keep people from telling you what you need to do is to do it before they ask.
I have made a life and career out of that maxim. Man, does it WORK.
If you have an active, stubborn, at times rebellious young boy (and ALL young boys should be exactly those things to a degree) then go out and get Ronin Cleans His Room Like a Ninja as soon as you can, whether you are a parent, a babysitter, a school teacher, coach, or one of the coolest uncles on the planet.
TITLE: Ronin Cleans His Room like a Ninja
AUTHOR: Chris Roy
Illustrated by Lucas Romão
PUBLISHER: HRPR Blackberry Publishing