She has graced us with a companion book and while it can be read as a stand alone, I would recommend that kids start with Heart of a Samurai, which will real them into a unique situation of a boy who is saved by Westerners, the brutes he has been taught to hate and fear. I always think it is brilliant when an author can craft a compelling story and get kids interested in a historically significant event. In this case they will be fascinated by the opening of Japan to the West.
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Author: Margi Preus
Target:Grades 5 and up
Series: This is a companion book to Heart of a Samurai
What this book is about:
Yoshi is is a lowly Japanese servant in the mid 1800’s, who dreams of being a samurai, when the American steam ships enter Edo Bay. Japan has been closed off to the West for 200 years and the Japanese think the Westerners are barbarians. Through a series of misfortunes related to the Americans, Yoshi is being hunted by an actual samurai. He takes on a variety of difficult jobs to get away from the samurai and ends up going into hiding with a cabin boy from one of the American ships. While a partnership with the American can certainly seems hazardous, perhaps they can help each other navigate these new waters.
Why I love this book:
When historical fiction is done well, kids get a great story and they learn about events that shaped a country. I like to think of it as a win/win! In this book there are sword fights, spies, and chases through the landscape, everything you need for a great adventure book. And kids get to learn about the opening of Japan to the Western world, a monumental event.
I am targeting the book a bit older because there is also a lot of talk of politics and diplomacy, which may easily get lost on a younger reader.
Who this book is for:
Kids who love history or a great action adventure story will enjoy this one. Kids do not have to have read Heart of a Samurai to enjoy this book but will probably get more out of it if they have.
I liked that photos and illustrations are dispersed through the text. There aren’t a plethora of them, but they were nice to see since the background of the story is based on actual events.
To purchase this book:
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