Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book talk: Heart of a Samurai (Virginia Readers' Choice, 2012-2013)

Do you remember the story of Odysseus? He was away from his home for a very, very long time, but he never forgot his homeland, and he always longed to return.

Manjiro was a 14-year-old Japanese boy on a fishing expedition when he and his shipmates got lost and landed on a tiny island populated only by birds. When the birds left the island, Manjiro and his mates started to starve to death, but luckily they were rescued, by men with blue eyes who did not understand a single word they said. These men spoke English and were whale-hunters. Manjiro now found himself on a different type of boat, with very different mates, whale-hunting. Manjiro ends up in America.

So why can’t Manjiro just go home? It’s not that easy to do in 1841. After all, he’s lucky to alive at all. Being a foreigner in America at this time is not easy. He’s mocked for the way he looks and the way he talks. But he’s fond of the man who adopted him and treated him kindly. He’s there for many years before he’s given the chance to go home again. Can he even still speak Japanese? Will anyone recognize him? Will his family remember him? The Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus.

The Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus.  Amulet Books, 2010. 301 pages. Virginia Readers' Choice for middle school, 2012-2013.

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