The ninja, the cowboy and the bear do everything together — they paint pictures, compare cloud shapes in the sky, fly kites and much more. Though each friend is very different from one another, they enjoy each other's company. Until one day when they begin quarreling and compete to see which one is the best. The bear can pile up rocks the highest. The cowboy can collect the most raspberries. The ninja can catch the most rabbits. When each contest leads to more resentment, it seems the friends will never stop disagreeing. Only when they learn to be considerate of their differences do they finally realize how much they appreciate each other. The cute, yet stylized artwork combined with a fun story about friendship and celebrating differences make this legend an unforgettable one. This playfully illustrated picture book also includes instructions for the Ninja-Cowboy-Bear game, which is similar to Rock Paper Scissors except that kids use their whole body.
This comic book style story features three amiable characters who challenge each other to a series of contests only to realize that "no one had to be the best. They were each special and unique just like you and me." Leung's action-filled, brightly-colored illustrations, which have a burnished, wood-grain quality, seem ready-made for animation. With style and humor, the collaborators show how the bear's strength allows him to build a higher rock pile than the ninja, the cowboy's "precision and accuracy" allows him to pick more raspberries than the bear, and the ninja's agility allows him to catch more rabbits than the cowboy. The simple story about accepting one's gifts also provides the basis for a game featuring the three characters, which is described at the end of the book. A variation of "rock-paper-scissors," the game does not rely on hand signals, but encourages children to use full body play as "ninja beats cowboy," "cowboy beats bear," and "bear beats ninja" (an online version of the game is also available, but seems like scant fun compared to striking bear and ninja poses). Ages 4 7.