Wednesday, August 13, 2014

THINK LIKE A SAMURAI

If you’re headed to the Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor exhibit  at the Birmingham Museum of Art, this book will whet the appetite of your middle grade boy readers. Girls, too.  It’ a riveting book, museum trip or not.

WHITE CRAIN by Sandy Fussell, illustrated by Rhian Nest James, Candlewick Press, 2010.
 
Niya Moto, narrator, is a 14 year old boy whose father was a samurai. However, Niya can’t attend his father’s school for training because he has only one leg.

Along with five fellow students who have their own obstacles to overcome, Niya studies with sensei Ki-Yaga, an ancient but legendary warrior. Ki-Yaga teaches them not only physical skills, but mental and spiritual ones.

The humor is sly and subtle. Chapter titles like “Bad Breath and Big Feet” are gigglers.

The learning process is deep and gentle. A glossary of useful words and the 7 virtues of Bushido (samurai code) ground the story.

The kids are well defined personalities and even though they encounter great cruelties because of their lack of physical perfection, disability is only a small part of what tags each one. Sensei leads, guides, prods them into greater perspectives. Their spirit totems reveal character while friendship, loyalty, and using one’s head to think a problem through create triumphant outcomes.

This is Sandy Fussell’s debut novel. Illustrator Rhian Nest James has illustrated more than 60 children’s books. Both live in Australia.  

 

 

6 comments:

  1. What an intriguing and wonderful book!!!

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  2. Thanks for stopping by Kathye. I will be blogging one more Samurai book before I move on. You will recognize the author.

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  3. This recommendation is important to me, Joan. Even though I can't attend the exhibit, now I have a title new to me, with great storytelling. I like it that the MC has the added adversity of a physical challenge few people must cope with. Brava! for sharing this.

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    1. What I found refreshing was that the character was not defined by the disability. Each challenge became an opportunity to discover an inner strength.

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  4. P.S. I am wondering if any of the student characters in Niya's group also have blindness? If so, can you please let me know & I have a professional contact who would like very much to know about it.

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    1. Yes. Taji is blind. His spirit totem is Golden Bat. Thanks for passing this along, Jan.

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