January 31, 2012

Ninja Cowboy Bear

Still doing rock-paper-scissors?  Need a bit more kinesthetic activity? Want to support Canadian authors and illustrators?  Then, have I got a series for you.

Two young men, David Bruins and Hilary Leung, have come together to produce Ninja Cowboy Bear, a series of books based on the unlikely friendship of these three characters.  Ninja, Cowboy and Bear love spending time together - swinging, cycling, baking, kite-flying - regardless of their very strong differences.  The stories revolve around the three friends and how they work through their differences in personalities and abilities in order to stay friends.

Illustrator Hilary Leung's charming characters are recognizable even to very young children, who will enjoy the detailed but unencumbered drawings of their activities.  Teachers and parents will love the lessons about accepting differences but the kids will love the playful interactions of the friends and learning how to play the new version of an old decision-making strategy.

To date, three books in the series have been published:

The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear
by David Bruins and illustrated by Hilary Leung
Kids Can Press, 2009

Ninja Cowboy Bear Presents The Way of the Ninja
by David Bruins and illustrated by Hilary Leung
 Kids Can Press, 2010

Ninja Cowboy Bear Presents The Call of the Cowboy
by David Bruins and illustrated by Hilary Leung
 Kids Can Press, 2011

Of course, one of the best things about the series is the game Ninja Cowboy Bear.

To play the game:
1. Use Hilary Leung's illustration here to learn the 3 moves of the characters. Ninja looks ready to attack, one leg bent and raised.  Cowboy pulls two guns out, ready for a shoot-out. Bear holds both arms up to look big and scary.

2. Stand with your back to your partner and decide which character's pose you will use.

3. When ready, take 3 steps away from each other, counting to three.  Turn around on "3".

4. See who wins.
 (Both of the above game diagrams are provided as downloads at the Ninja Cowboy Bear website of David Bruins and Hilary Leung.)

I would recommend checking out their amazing Ninja Cowboy Bear website for information about the books and the game, as well as accessing colouring sheets, crafts, T-shirts, and contact for the author and illustrator.

I'm looking forward to the inevitable fourth book in the series.  Roar of the Bear? Hibernating with Bear? Your guess is probably better than mine.

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