Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $9.99 ISBN 9781760295554
Reviewed by Daniela Andrews
Desperate to make friends at his new school, Chase Cooper falls in with the wrong sort of crowd – a secret group of ninjas who are up to no good. In order to be initiated, he has to prove his worth by stealing from one of his classmates. His cousin Zoe, sympathetic to Chase’s struggle to make friends, goes along with it all at first. She quickly feels sickened by their lack of morals though, and angrily leaves the group.
The ninjas decide to retaliate by stealing the school fundraising money for the ‘Student Hunger Drive’ and framing Zoe for the theft – but they want Chase to be the one to set her up. Chase must work out whether belonging to a group is more important to him than hurting Zoe, his truest ally.
Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja is the first book in a series currently featuring ten titles, all to be released for publication between the months of January and March, 2017. Author, Marcus Emerson, self-published the series first and achieved amazing success with over 200,000 copies of the books sold worldwide.
Readers aged 7–12 years will find this story fun and engaging. It is told from a first-person perspective and is rich in dialogue, making it easy to read. The sheer quirkiness of the tale also makes it hard to put down! (Chase describes it best when he says ‘I just lived through it, and even I don’t believe that tale.’) In amidst the fast paced action, Emerson explores themes of loneliness and social anxieties in a school-based setting.
The book does feature occasional black and white illustrations throughout, to complement the story. Its formatting is far more traditional compared to, say, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or the Weirdo books, but I believe fans of those novels will enjoy this series also.
Emerson gives the series a strong sense of direction with this first novel, which finishes off with a leadership upset and an impending new adventure that ties in with the second book.