Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus won a Newbery honor medal this year, and I could not agree more with this book’s induction into Newbery fame.
It is based on the true story of fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who was thought to be the first Japanese person to set foot on American soil. In 1841 Manjiro and four of his friends went fishing off the coast of Shikoku, Japan and are caught in a terrific storm. As a result they are stranded on a deserted island, and, though rescue seemed hopeless, the island is not the end of the story. An American whaling ship finds them and takes them aboard. Hearkening to the high seas adventuring of Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Manjiro becomes friends with the ‘barbarian’ American’s, and signs up with their crew. Manjiro’s adventures take him all over the world, including America where he lives with the kind Captain Whitfield who treats him like a son. Despite making new friends and seeing the world, Manjiro’s heart is still on the shores of Japan, and he longs to see his mother and family. Sadly, return to Japan seems impossible since the country remains closed, even to prior citizens. Does he ever return?
You’ll just have to read it for yourself. (I don’t like ruining endings like so many jacket flaps I know.)
The illustrations throughout the story really captured my interest. They were Manjiro’s original drawings, which continually reminded me that this story was not just a work of fiction but actually happened.
Now, onto other matters. In a previous post I showed you some pictures of my childhood and asked your opinion of which one should reside above. From votes on this site as well as on Facebook the results were a tie between #4 and #8. I decided to go with #4…it’s just too good. But, I love to move furniture and other things around so when I decide to switch up the header I’ll give #8 a turn.
Currently I’m reading several books (sheesh). On my figurative nightstand are:
The Know-It-All by A. J. Jacobs (So funny and so informative.)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (Forrest and I found this Pulitzer winner at Goodwill for $3.99, usually $15. It is SO good and is the grown-up book I’ve been looking for. There are so many big words I don’t know, and upon starting it I looked at Forrest and said, “I think my brain has atrophied from reading so many children’s books.”)
An undisclosed book by an undisclosed author, the second in my book reviewing adventures. My first review hasn’t popped up yet but I’ll let you know when it does.
Till next time.
Oh, and Fran says hello.
“Isn’t she lovely….”