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Heart of a Samurai

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Heart of a Samurai
by Margi Preus

Heart of a Samurai is a 2011 Newbery Honor Book.

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 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.

Interest Level:   5th grade     6th grade     7th grade     8th grade 

Book Type:    chapter book

Related Lists:   Newbery Award     historical fiction     history

Reading Level:   DRA Level 60      Guided Reading Level W

As a service, we have added a small label to the inside front cover of the book indicating the book's reading level.