Heart of a Samurai
Heart of a Samurai

Heart of a Samurai

Written by Margi Preus
Part of the Heart of a Samurai Book Series
10 - 13
Reading age
Page count
Words per page
Lexile measure
Aug 1, 2010
Publication date

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Publisher Summary

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. Accolades and Praise for Heart of a Samurai2011 Newbery Honor BookNew York Times BestsellerNPR Backseat Book Club pick “A terrifc biographical novel by Margi Preus.” -Wall Street Journal STARRED REVIEW“It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story (although this fish goes into the water repeatedly), and it’s precisely this classic structure that gives the novel the sturdy bones of a timeless tale. Backeted by gritty seafaring episodes–salty and bloody enough to assure us that Preus has done her research–the book’s heart is its middle section, in which Manjiro, allegedly the first Japanese to set foot in America, deals with the prejudice and promise of a new world. By Japanese tradition, Manjiro was destined to be no more than a humble fisherman, but when his 10-year saga ends, he has become so much more.”–Booklist, starred review STARRED REVIEW“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. Capturing his wonder, remarkable willingness to learn, the prejudice he encountered and the way he eventually influenced officials in Japan to open the country, this highly entertaining page-turner.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review STARRED REVIEW“Stunning debut novel. Preus places readers in the young man’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 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” 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.”–Horn Book

What Kind of Book is Heart of a Samurai


AmericacultureJapanplaces and regions


Race, Ethnicities, & Nationalities


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    Book Details

    Publication Date
    August 1, 2010
    Harry N. Abrams
    Page Count
    Words Per Page
    Middle Grade
    Reading Age
    10 - 13 years
    Lib. of Congress (LCCN)
    Lexile® Level
    Est. Fountas & Pinnell Level
    ATOS® Book Level
    Accelerated Reader® Points
    Accelerated Reader Quiz
    Accelerated Reader Interest Level

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