Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

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In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan's borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way. Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.

About Margi Preus

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Margi Preus has written many popular plays and picture books for children. She teaches a children's literature course at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, where she writes for Colder by the Lake Comedy Theater and also watches for whales on Lake Superior. This is her first novel. Visit her online at www.margipreus.com.
Published August 1, 2010 by Amulet Books. 320 pages
Genres: Action & Adventure, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Travel. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Heart of a Samurai

Kirkus Reviews

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Illustrated with Manjiro’s own pencil drawings in addition to other archival material and original art from Tamaki, this is a captivating fictionalized (although notably faithful) retelling of the boy’s adventures.

Jul 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Heart of a Samurai

Publishers Weekly

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In picture book author (The Peace Bell) Preus’s excellent first novel, based on the true story of Manjiro Nakahama, Manjiro is 14 in 1841 when he is shipwrecked in a storm.

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The Wall Street Journal

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Japan "had spent hundreds of years living from full moon to full moon while the West had sped ahead in science, invention, transportation, navigation and, most ominously, military strength," he reflects (via the author).

Aug 07 2010 | Read Full Review of Heart of a Samurai

Kirkus Reviews

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In a novel that Kirkus praised as "a highly entertaining page-turner," Margi Preus (The Peace Bell, 2008) returns to Japan to tell the rousing story of 14-year-old Manjiro, the first Japanese person to set foot in America.

Nov 15 2010 | Read Full Review of Heart of a Samurai

Common Sense Media

Manjiro – believed to be the first from the closed country of Japan to visit America – enters school, confronts racism, and eventually heads west in search of gold to finance an attempt to return to Japan.

Aug 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Heart of a Samurai

Historical Novel Society

Son of a fisherman, 14-year-old Manjiro dreams of being a samurai.

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Shelf Awareness

Such a thing was against the law in Japan.” Yet much later, when Manjiro finds himself in the position of harpooning a whale, “he remembered how repulsed he’d been that these foreigners could kill so cruelly.” His ability to reflect on his own actions and to judge himself by the same standards by...

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Palatine Public Library

After being shipwrecked on a desert island in the 1840s, 14-year-old Manjiro is rescued by a whaling ship and becomes the first person from Japan to travel to America.

Mar 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Heart of a Samurai

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