Author(s): Margi Preus
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#146;s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.
Manjiro, a 14-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 there for some time 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 emperor to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.
Heart of a Samurai is a 2011 Newbery Honor Book.
Accolades and Praise for Heart of a Samurai
2011 Newbery Honor Book
New York Times Bestseller
NPR Backseat Book Club pick
"A terrifc biographical novel by Margi Preus." -Wall Street Journal
"Stunning debut novel. Preus places readers in the young man#146;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."
--School Library Journal, starred review
"Preus mixes fact with fiction in a tale that is at once adventurous, heartwarming, sprawling, and nerve-racking in its depictions of early anti-Asian sentiment. She succeeds in making readers feel every bit as other#148; as Manjiro, while showing America at its best and worst through his eyes."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"First-time novelist Preus turns the true story of Manjiro into an action-packed boy's adventure tale."
Short-listed for Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award (Grades 6-8) 2015.
Margi Preus is the author of The Peace Bell and two forthcoming books for young people as well as co-author of The Legend of the Ladyslipper and A Book of Grace. She also writes and co-writes plays, sketches, adaptations, comic operas and theatrical titbits for a variety of children's and adult theatre companies.