Meet Author/Illustrator Sanae Ishida

Q&A with the creator of Little Kunoichi
| Category: Children's Books

Upcoming events with Sanae Ishida:

Saturday, July 11th at 2 p.m. Story time at Kinokuniya (Uwajimaya Village) in the International District (Seattle)

Wednesday, July 22nd at 7 p.m. Pajama Story time at Third Place Books in Ravenna (Seattle)

Sanae Ishida is the author and illustrator of the adorable new book, Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl. We asked Sanae about her creative process, and where the idea for her book began.  

Tell us the story of how Little Kunoichi began.

I’ve had a version of this story brewing in my mind for many, many years, even before I was married! I always envisioned a sweet female protagonist who works hard and forges great friendships. And when the opportunity to write and illustrate a book came up, I happened to be walking by a coffee shop named Tiny Ninja near my house (which is no longer in business), and the words “Little Kunoichi” popped into my head and the little ninja girl was born!

What does your daughter think of Little Kunoichi?

She loves it! She’s the best promoter around and tells everyone about it. When the advance copies came in the mail, she immediately took out a copy and asked me to sign it for her. She then rushed upstairs to read the story to her pet frogs, and she paused while gazing at the festival page and whispered, “I’m so proud of you, Mama.” It was an unforgettable moment.

Where do you write/paint?

The writing happens at coffee shops. I’m a habitual journal writer and have been scrawling my thoughts in coffee shops for over twenty years. I paint in my living room on a midcentury table that has a great history. I bought it from a lovely man whose aunt was the original owner. She used to play bridge with her girlfriends, and when he inherited it from her, he threw many a party with the table as the centerpiece. It’s MacGyver-esque and collapses from a long rectangular shape to a compact square.

What does a typical day look like for you when you’re working on your books?

I’m a big fan of routines, but there wasn’t really a typical day when working on Little Kunoichi. Most of the heavy lifting happened upfront when I created thumbnail sketches to pitch the book, and since the entire story was pretty much approved as is, I spent the rest of the time painting and scanning in the evenings using the thumbnail sketches as a guide, then I digitally assembled and tweaked images at a coffee shop the next day. It was incredibly fun.

If you lived on Little Kunoichi’s super secret island, would you rather attend the ninja or the samurai school?

Ninja school all the way. But there are other secret schools too that perhaps will get their turn in the spotlight (fingers crossed!).


Little Kunoichi is on sale now!

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  1. My daughter absolutely loves Little Kunoichi, we have read it every single day for the past two weeks. She loves that Little Kunoichi has such a great friend in Chibi Samurai. Your illustrations are wonderful, we can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

    Posted by Erin Staggs 

  2. Love this little book! Want to get a signed copy for my niece. Will there be a book signing coming up soon? I just missed the one at UCU this weekend. ::tear::

    Posted by Jen 

    1. Hi Jen! Sanae will be signing at Kinokuniya on July 11th, then at Third Place Books in Ravenna on July 22nd at 7pm. Hope to see you there!

      Posted by Lisa Hay 

  3. yay for female empowerment! This book looks great 🙂

    Posted by Christina McMahon