Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus


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HEART OF A SAMURAI
Margi Preus
Amulet Books,  
August 27, 2012
HC, 304 pp, $15.95
978-0-810989818










HEART OF A SAMURAI  is as close to a Perfect Storm adventure for the YA audience as you can get. The Newbery Honor novel is based on the life of Manjiro, a shipwrecked and stranded fourteen year old boy who lived in Japan in the 19th century. In the story, Manjiro and four companions are stranded on an island off the coast of Japan. Desperate, scared and faced with a vague and tenuous fate, the serendipitous passing of the whaling ship, the John Howland renders their rescue possible. There is no chance that the ship will take them back home. In 1841 Japan is a closed country, the borders are sealed to all coming and going. No foreigners were allowed to enter, and returning countrymen could face harsh repercussions, imprisonment and possibly death. The boys fear the sailors are barbarians as they have never encountered western people and their behavior often shocks them. Ironically, the Americans view the Japanese boys with equal mistrust and fear. Fortunately for Manjiro, he is befriended by the captain. When Captain Whitfield witnesses the boy’s keen, savvy and quick response to an emergency, he decides to teach him the whaling trade. Upon their return to Massachusetts, he is adopted by the captain and his future looks bright. He embraces the dangerous life whaling as he journeys the high seas, but his dream of becoming a samurai appears beyond his reach. How could a fisherman’s son ever hope to be one of the chosen samurai? HEART OF A SAMURAI is full of adventure, mystery, historical facts and page turning drama. The character’s personalities are genuine, warm with a few crusty edged sailors thrown in. Preus provides historical facts, glossary and extensive bibliography for further reading. The reader becomes witness to whaling scenes including the Nantucket Sleighride guaranteed to be memorable and heart stopping. Manjiro told his story in four books that were published in 1852, a valuable resource for Margi Preus when writing her book. HEART OF A SAMURAI is a whopping whale of a tale, wrapped around the history of Japanese and American world trade and cultural relations. Suitable for upper elementary, middle school and above.


Wisteria Leigh
January 6, 2013

DISCLOSURE: THE COPY OF HEART OF A SAMURAI WAS PURCHASED BY WISTERIA. THE REVIEW IS THE REVIEWERS CANDID OPINION.


© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2013].

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