Thursday, July 26, 2012

Heart of a Samurai

In 1841 Manjiro is a fourteen year old boy, the youngest member of a Japanese fishing crew.  When their small wooden boat is overtaken by a storm, the small crew survives but is stranded on a small island that is little more than a rock jutting out of the sea.  The others laugh when he tells them he wanted to be a samurai.  Even he thinks it is a foolish thought.  Samurai are sons of the wealthy, born to privilege and excess, but Manjiro is the poor son of a fisherman.

He knows that his life would've been nothing but fishing and bowing to his betters, but he can't help thinking about what his father told him about the brave and noble Samurai of the past.

This is the beginning of an adventure that will take Manjiro around the world and back again.  He will work on a massive whaling ship, attend school in America, and even learn to ride a horse.  Manjiro knows he would never have these opportunities in Japan where he was destined to be a humble fisherman.  He will experience the excitement of new cultures and find a new family, but his heart always longs for home.

Because of Japan's policy of isolation, Manjiro knows he might not be welcomed back by his countrymen.  He will need the heart of a Samurai to even attempt return and to try to convince Japan's rulers that a leap into the modern world is necessary for the island nation.

Be sure to read the epilogue to find out what happened to the real Manjiro on whom Margi Preus based her story!!

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