Naruto is an orphan boy growing up in a village in Japan. He attends the village school for ninjas, but he is always up to mischief, refusing to focus on his studies like the other boys do. Now it is nearly graduation, and the book opens as Naruto defaces the stone faces carved into the mountainside above the village. The faces depict revered ninja warriors who protected the village in the past, and Naruto splashes paint all over them.
When graduation day comes, Naruto does not pass the test. His teacher, Master Iruka, is disappointed in him, and Naruto feels humiliated. When another teacher takes him aside and whispers something in his ear, Naruto learns that there is a scroll that will give him power, even if he did fail the test. But there is something about himself that Naruto does not know, and soon he will have some tough choices to make.
This is a chapter book geared toward elementary school children, who are sure to be interested in Naruto, the main character of a very popular manga series for teenagers. The print is large, the chapters short, and the sentences fairly simple. It includes black-and-white illustrations, many with graphic-novel-style speech bubbles, that will make this book very appealing to emergent readers. Naruto is not a very likable character initially, but readers will quickly empathize with his problems because he is an orphan and an outcast, but he is funny and enthusiastic about everything he does - and he has a good heart.
Naruto: The Boy Ninja (#1 in the Naruto Chapterbooks series) by Masashi Kishimoto; adapted by TraceyWest (VIZ Media, 2008)