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Heart of a Samurai Hardcover – Illustrated, August 1, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 285 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up–A Japanese teenager living in the mid-19th century bridges two worlds in this stunning debut novel based on true events. Manjiro and his fellow fishermen find refuge on a remote island after a storm destroys their ship. When they are rescued by an American whaleboat captain and given the chance to return home with him, Manjiro accepts the offer. His encounters with a land that he has been taught is barbaric and his subsequent efforts to return to Japan shape him into an admirable character. Preus places readers in the young man's shoes, whether he is on a ship or in a Japanese prison. Her deftness in writing is evident in two poignant scenes, one in which Manjiro realizes the similarities between the Japanese and the Americans and the other when he reunites with his Japanese family. A sailor named Jolly and an American teen express the racism he experiences in America. Both of these characters gain sympathy from readers as their backgrounds are revealed, and as one of them comes to respect Manjiro. The truths he learns about himself and his fellow men and women are beautifully articulated. Manjiro's own drawings are well placed throughout the narrative and appropriately captioned. Preus includes extensive historical notes and a bibliography for those who want to know more about the man and the world in which he lived.Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Manjiro is 14 when a freak storm washes him and his four fishing companions onto a tiny island far from their Japanese homeland. Shortly before starving, they are rescued by an American whaling ship. But it’s 1841 and distrust is rampant: the Japanese consider the whalers barbarians, while the whalers think of the Japanese as godless cannibals. Captain William Whitfield is different—childless, he forges a bond with the boy, and when it comes time for Manjiro to choose between staying with his countrymen or going to America as Whitfield’s son, he picks the path of adventure. It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story (although this fish goes into the water repeatedly), and it’s precisely this classic structure that gives the novel the sturdy bones of a timeless tale. Bracketed by gritty seafaring episodes—salty and bloody enough to assure us that Preus has done her research—the book’s heart is its middle section, in which Manjiro, allegedly the first Japanese to set foot in America, deals with the prejudice and promise of a new world. By Japanese tradition, Manjiro was destined to be no more than a humble fisherman, but when his 10-year saga ends, he has become so much more. Wonderful back matter helps flesh out this fictionalized version of the same story told in Rhoda Blumberg’s Shipwrecked! The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy (2001). Grades 7-11. --Daniel Kraus

Product details

  • Lexile measure : 760L
  • Grade level : 5 - 9
  • Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
  • Hardcover : 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0810989816
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0810989818
  • Dimensions : 5.75 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Publisher : Harry N. Abrams; Illustrated edition (August 1, 2010)
  • Reading level : 10 - 14 years
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 285 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
285 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2015
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Top reviews from other countries

Liddie
5.0 out of 5 stars Japanese shipwreck story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2017
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Pierre-Alexandre Caron
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Reviewed in Canada on October 28, 2017
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Ron
5.0 out of 5 stars A treat
Reviewed in Germany on July 28, 2015
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朱里九
4.0 out of 5 stars この本は少年の生き生きとした夢にあふれていると思う。
Reviewed in Japan on September 7, 2011
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宗宏
4.0 out of 5 stars 日本人として誇りに思える内容
Reviewed in Japan on December 7, 2013
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10 people found this helpful
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