Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 8 to 12
- Grade: 3 to 6
- Reading age: 8 to 12
It’s 1558, and warlords across Japan are battling for territory and control. Into this setting, award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi weaves the stories of three people: Mochizuki Chiyome, a young woman determined to become a ninja whose plans are thwarted by an arranged marriage; Takeda Shingen (The Tiger), a fierce warlord seeking a new weapon to outsmart his enemies; and Aki, an orphaned tavern girl whose destiny is changed by a mysterious woman.
As their stories intersect, the three characters become key players in an elaborate network of undercover female ninjas who will eventually shift the balance of power in Japan.
Based on the true story of Mochizuki Chiyome and her all-female spy network, Shadow Warrior takes readers on a journey through feudal Japan, from villages to castles to battlefields. Stunning illustrations by Celia Krampien, interspersed with archival Japanese art, vividly depict the rigors of ninja training, the struggles of village life, the intensity of battle, and the thrill of accomplishing a secret mission.
About the authors
Tanya Lloyd Kyi has written over fifteen books of fiction and nonfiction for middle-grade and young-adult readers, including many award winners. Her recent titles for Annick Press include Extreme Battlefields: When War Meets the Forces of Nature (2016), DNA Detective (2015), and When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival (2014). Tanya lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband and two children.
Celia Krampien has created illustrations for newspapers and magazines including The Los Angeles Times, Scientific American, Variety, and The Globe and Mail, where she is a regular contributing artist. She also illustrated several children’s books, including The Wild World of Buck Bray and Here to There and Me to You. Celia lives in Oakville, Ontario.
- Nominated, Amelia Bloomer Project List nomination, ALA
Excerpt: Shadow Warrior: Based on the true story of a fearless ninja and her network of female spies (by (author) Tanya Lloyd Kyi & Celia Krampien)
Chiyome dangled upside down from the cliff’s edge. The blood rushed to her head, and the pounding in her ears drowned out the calls of forest birds. The breeze, which had seemed so mild a moment ago, now threatened to tear her from the rock.
Her training partner adjusted his grip on her ankles, giving them a tiny tug. Chiyome held back a scream. The rocks at the base of the cliff were jagged and seemed heart-stoppingly far below. If she fell ...
Be patient. Conquer fear. Sensei’s words from that morning echoed in her head. She glimpsed her instructor on the cliff’s edge above, watching her silently. A dozen other students, all boys, clustered nearby. Most had already completed this particular challenge.
She forced herself to take long, slow breaths as their voices drifted down to her.
“She’ll give up soon.”
“Maybe. But you know who her great-grandfather was, right?”
A murmur ran through the group at the sound of his name. He’d been one of Koga’s best fighters.
Chiyome felt her legs trembling. Be patient. Conquer fear, she repeated to herself. She remembered Sensei’s lessons about practicing zanshin: calm awareness. She tried to clear her mind, ignoring the boys and focusing only on the rhythm of her breath and the cold wind on her face.
For just a whisper of time the fear seemed to float away from her body before she heard Sensei speak: “Bring her up.”
Once again Chiyome began to shiver. Her partner gripped her legs tighter as another boy reached down for her hand, and together they hauled her up over the edge, the rough granite scraping her elbows and knees. She sprawled on the ground, gasping for air, and glanced at her partner. He looked as shaken as she felt. Then she forced herself upright and bowed to Sensei, who nodded his approval.
“Next,” Sensei called, and a boy to her right stepped unsteadily forward.
Chiyome leaned against a tree trunk. Another ninja test, and she had survived. Not only survived, but gained a rare nod from her teacher. Though she kept her face carefully smooth, she was beaming inside.
Once, her great-grandfather had helped establish Koga’s ninja traditions. Now, Chiyome would carry on his legacy. She’d serve as one of the guards and lookouts who ranged through the nearby mountains, protecting the local villages. Or she’d seek her fortune working for a faraway daimyo.
First, she needed to learn everything Sensei could teach: how to scale castle walls, how to make waterproof torches, and how to count the sleeping bodies in a darkened room. She’d practice disguising herself in the light and listening from the shadows.
Today’s tests had just begun. As the last boy pulled his partner up over the edge, Sensei pointed to the cliff’s face. Their next challenge, he explained, was to climb all the way across it, to the path on the far side, barely visible through the mist.
Chiyome looked at the sheer granite, her eyes seeking out tiny ledges and possible handholds. She glanced at the ground far below and swallowed hard.
Zanshin. Be patient. Conquer fear.
For other books by Tanya Kyi:
Extreme Battlefields: When War Meets the Forces of Nature
“[B]road of both historical and geographical scope.”
“High interest and thorough, it will delight military-history buffs.”—Booklist Online
“[O]f great interest to those interested in war history.”
—School Library Journal
When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival
“A thrilling, well-sourced book, ideal for research or for browsing.”
—School Library Journal
“Kyi’s fresh voice will have readers picturing themselves in the shoes of these real-life survivors.”
“This enticing and informative book doesn’t shy away from ethics and controversy.”
—The Booklist Reader
50 Body Questions: A Book that Spills Its Guts
“A tour (de force) through the human body that’s eminently understandable and entertaining and even often quite funny.”
—Kirkus Reviews *starred review
“Engaging and fact-filled, this entertaining miscellany makes a solid starting point for research projects.”
—Curriculum Connections, School Library Journal
“With humor, relevance, and fascinating trivia, this book suggests that no topic concerning physiology should be taboo and that, in spite of its ickiness, the human body is truly amazing.”
“A fun and quirky romp through human anatomy.”
—School Library Journal
The Lowdown on Denim
“[The Lowdown on Denim] will be a surefire hit for libraries looking to add attention-grabbing nonfiction to their collections.”
—School Library Journal
Science in Society Book Award
Best Bets List, Ontario Library Association
Green Book Festival Award
Best Books for Kids & Teens 2016, starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre 2017 Rocky Mountain Book Award nomination
Canadian Children’s Book Centre Silver Birch Award nomination
For other books by Celia Krampien
Here to There and Me to You, by Cheryl Keely (Sleeping Bear Press, February 2017)
“In her first picture book, Krampien uses a fresh, contemporary cartooning style to create expansive panoramas that showcase the bridges’ sizes and spans, as well the activity of the humans and animals they serve.” —Publisher's Weekly, November 2016
The Wild World of Buck Bray: The Missing Grizzly Cubs by Judy Young (Sleeping Bear Press, 2016)
“A solid purchase for most medium-size or larger school or public libraries.” —School Library Journal, September 2016
“This interesting peek into a lesser-known historical moment tells a compelling story of women intentionally—and expertly—hiding in a male-dominated field.”—Booklist, 09/21/17
“Kyi and Krampien fully involve readers in this well-told, thrilling story.” —School Library Journal, 09/01/17
School Library Journal
“An intriguing read.” —Libris Notes, 10/08/17
“A terrifically told story with striking design and illustrations that will empower its readers.”—Kirkus Reviews, 07/15/17
Other titles by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Prince of Pot
Eyes and Spies
How You're Tracked and Why You Should Know
When the Worst Happens
Extraordinary Stories of Survival
50 Body Questions
A Book That Spills Its Guts
Anywhere but Here
La otra vida de Caz
(My Time as Caz Hazard)
Lowdown on Denim, The
50 Underwear Questions
A Bare-All History