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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 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.
Published by Amulet Books. Cover art by Jillian Tamaki.
2011 Newbery Honor Book
ALSC Notable Children’s Book
Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature
Listed as one of the Best Children’s Books of the year by Bank Street College, Publishers Weekly, New York City Public Library, Kirkus Reviews
Notable Book for a Global Society
Kiddo Award – Editor’s Pick
Featured on NPR’s Backseat Book Club
Global Reading Challenge Book Seattle Public Library
90-Second Newbery Film Festival
Heart of a Samurai was adapted into a short movie for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. You can learn more about the festival including dates for the annual screenings in New York City, Chicago, and more at 90secondnewbery.com >
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