Premise: Fourteen-year old Manjiro and his fellow sailors are stranded at sea in a storm off Japan's coast in 1841. If they stray too far, Japan won't allow them to return to their homes and families. On a deserted island, the crew waits. An American ship takes them aboard, and Manjiro is ready to learn about whaling, as well as Americans and other people around the world. But as he travels the high seas over the next ten years, one question burns in his mind: Will he ever be able to go home again?
What keeps readers reading: a fascinating blend of history mixed with the humble and genuine character of Manjiro. Margie Prues stitches journeys around the world, people from all corners of the globe - good ones, bad ones, and ugly ones - and adventures on ships and on land, and shows how unselfishness and true inner beauty can win the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Heart of a Samurai, definitely an upper middle grade reading level, teaches about a significant moment in world history, but even more than that, it teaches readers about being a better person.
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