The Bamboo Sword for Samurai Week

Samurai Week continues with a book by a wonderful author of historical fiction, Margi Preus.  If kids haven’t read her first book on the opening of Japan, Heart of a Samurai, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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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Title: The Bamboo Sword
 
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.

 
Final thoughts: 
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:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Bamboo Sword.  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

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