Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy
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Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Any person who leaves
the country to go to another
and later returns
will be put to death.This was the law in Japan in the early 1800s. When fourteen-year-old Manjiro, working on a fishing boat to help support his family, was shipwrecked three hundred miles away from his homeland, he was heartbroken to think that he would never again be able to go home. So when an American wh...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by HarperCollins (first published 2001)
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I really enjoyed the story, but I didn't like the way it was told. It's a big, detailed story, but I couldn't figure out what the target audience was meant to be. It was too often overly simple. Things were told in a step-by-step fashion, and having a little more detail would have made it a much better book. The author tended to keep the language very simple, too, and it left me frustrated. I really wanted just a little bit more.

The pictures were very nice, with a few drawings done by Manjiro, a...more
The true story of the first Japanese man to live in an America. A wonderful resource for children reading Heart of the Samurai. Includes photographs, maps, and artwork.
(NS) Becca

From School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-The true tale of a 14-year-old Japanese boy who, after being shipwrecked while fishing in 1841, was marooned for six months, rescued by an American whaling ship, educated in New England, and returned home to become an honored samurai. Blumberg was inspired to rescue this incredible story about Manjiro, also known as John Mung, when she realized that although it was well known in Japan, it enjoys only a small awareness in the West. The author's presentation illum...more
This is the amazing true story of 14-year-old Manjiro, the first Japanese person to come to America. Shipwrecked and marooned on a tiny island, Manjiro and four other crew members took shelter in a small cave and ate raw bird meat because they had no way to make a fire. They were cold. They had only a handful of water to drink each day. Worst of all they knew they could never go back to Japan. Japanese laws at that time were designed to keep everyone in Japan isolated from the rest of the world...more
Genre: Junior Book, Biographical


A Japanese teenager becomes stranded on an island many miles off the coast of Japan after a violent storm and the course of his life is permanently altered. Due to the severe restrictions regarding leaving the motherland and contact with outsiders, Manjiro (the boy) is cast into the world of an American whaler and adopts his new community with passion and vigor.

His story as it unfolds takes him across the globe and eventually to American shores where he pu...more
Rebecca Thomas
1.) Genre- Biography

2.) Summary- A Japanese boy, Manjiro, gets stranded during a storm at sea. In his adventures and travels Manjiro finds work both on an American whaling vessel and then in America itself.

3.)a.) Area of focus-graphics (both illustrations and photographs)

3.)b.) Blumberg uses a plethora of diagrams in this book which add interest and visual appeal to Manjiro's story.

3.)c.) While the language of this book can be dense, Blumberg does a great job of including appropriate images to...more
Chris Connolly
Category (Biography-Informational)
Found on page 278 in the textbook

1. Description

As a true adventure, the story of Manjiro, a young boy from Japan, is a bitter but sweet account of how this young man was brave enough to leave his country behind in search of new life, but this was not his choice; anyone who was caught leaving his country was banded forever and if returned, would be jailed immediately. A ship searching for whale oil makes a stop on the same island as Manjiro and his brothers. Afte...more
Assignment: Junior Book Log
Category: Informational
Recommending Source: p. 278 textbook

Review: "Head of the family at the age of nine!" Living in poverty, nine-year old Manjiro had no other choice but to help support his family once their father died. He began by assisting the local fishermen in order to help provide for his mother, younger sisters, younger brother, and disabled brother. In January 1841, five years had passed and Manjiro was old enough to do more than just unhook fish and empty n...more
I guess the mark of a good biographical story is that it makes you want to learn more. I would now like to know more about why Perry was sent to open up Japan. Why weren't the Japanese just left alone? And, there are some other politically oriented questions: was the United States as friendly and nice as he portrays it? In what ways did these interactions set the stage for the future, i.e., World War II?

I enjoyed the book. It wasn't quite as exciting as Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by J...more
This biography is attractive and historically accurate as Blumberg wrote this book after doing research for a book on Commodore Perry. She includes a variety of illustrations including: Japanese artwork, photographs, wood block print, engravings, sketches, maps, and American oil paintings. Shipwrecked! also includes several drawings done by Manjiro himself.

I was fascinated by this unbelievable story and surprised that I had never heard of this man, who is an iconic figure in Japanese culture. M...more
Emi Clark
Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy is a great biography to have in the classroom. The illustrations are great supplemental images of the journey Manjiro took and they help make the text easier to understand. I believe this text would spark students' interests in biographies. It also teaches students about the Japanese culture in the mid-1800s. It should help students appreciate the freedom we have in America.
In the mid 1800s a young boy goes out fishing in the hopes of getting food for his poor family. A storm comes up and he and the crew are shipwrecked on a small island 300 miles from their home in Japan. That is just the start of the trials and adventures of Manjiro. This true story highlights the differences between isolationist Japan and industrialized America as we follow Manjiro from fishing village to remote island, from whaling ship adventures to the port of Honolulu, school in New England,...more
A fascinating biography of Maniro Nakahama, a Japanese boy of 14 who worked as a fisherman in 1841. His ship was wrecked during stormy seas and he and his four companions where they were forced to live on a barely habitable, deserted island after their fishing boat was capsized.
This biography which is illustrated with many the biographee's drawings. Maniro eventually made his way to the United States then back to Japan and participated with Commodore Perry's talks with Japan about ending Japan's...more
Manjiro was the first Japanese man ever to step onto the United States. This true story is about his adventures as a 14 year old boy who got lost at sea, was found by Americans, and made a life for himself there. Longing to return home, but facing the strict laws of Japan, Manjiro risked his life to return home to his family. Although he faced execution, Majiro was saved by the emperor and eventually became a legend in his home country. He is known for bringing together Japan and the United Stat...more
A very interesting book, Shipwrecked by Rhoda Blumberg combines a biography; Japanese history, politics and culture in the 19th century; quotes from Herman Melville detailing whale hunts and the processing of whales; and artwork that includes historical photographs, Japanese woodcut prints, and drawings made by person about whom the book was written. I learned quite a bit, and enjoyed it! However, I wished there had been some color to the book; all the photos and artwork are simply black and whi...more
I also read this true story aloud to my daughter. A young Japanses fisherman gets shipwrecked along with his comrades in the early 1800s when Japan observed a strict isolationist policy. From there they embark on a real life adventure featuring whaling ships and learning about America and Americans first hand. The book includes many illustrations, period drawings, woodblock prints, etc. We learned a lot of interesting things about this time, especially about whaling. Interesting tale.
A fascinating account of Manjiro, a poor Japanese fisherman who was marooned on an island for 6 months and then saved by an American whaling ship. He was the first Japanese person to come to the U.S., attend school here, and participate in the Gold Rush. He returned to Japan and was thrown into prison for leaving his country during Japan's isolationist policy. His experiences and knowledge would eventually result in his elevation to samurai, government consultant, and professor.
Keith Kendall
This book was an easy read (It's a children's book). I enjoyed learning a couple of things about America that I hadn't know. (For example: in 1819 the whaling ship the Essex was rammed by a whale and sank. Moby Dick was written what the Essex was still in people's memories.) As the author points out, this story is well known in Japan, but not in the US. It made me want to learn more about this interesting bit of world history.

JBiography Nakahma

I have to admit, the cover hooked me. The story did not disappoint. I had never heard of Manjiro before, and was pretty clueless about Japan's isolation policy and their strict caste rules. Interesting all around.

Melville was a contemporary of Manjiro's, but I still never want to re-read Moby Dick! lol
This book really grabbed my interest. There is a recent Newberry honor book about the same subject. I have it on hold at the library. I love some of his comments about American culture. Manjiro had an exciting life of adventure. I want to learn more. It's another good book to recommend to my student.
Very well researched. Loved the art: a combination of 19th century wood block prints, photographs and other period pieces, sketches made by Manjiro and by Japanese artists based on his descriptions. An unusual story about the opening of Japan to the West and this remarkable and little known man.
Amy Gazaleh
What a great introduction to world cultures, history and diplomacy. Great for readers looking for true stories that might be off the beaten path. I especially enjoyed Blumberg's attention to the differences between western cultures and isolationist Japan.
This was a longer read aloud about Manjiro, the first Japanese citizen to visit the United States. It's a fascinating story and occasions a lot of discussion about its historical contexts--whaling, Japanese isolationism, the US gold rush, and more.
The story is incredible and fascinating. The writing is okay and sufficient for children. As I am no longer a child, it felt choppy. I love the inclusion of art, and I would recommend this as a biography for a older child (not a 6 yo).
A fun little nonfiction book about the first Japanese person that came to America, in a time when Japan had very strong isolationist policies, and how that young man strongly influenced the future course of Japanese history
Laura Gardner
This book is all about Manjiro, the Japanese boy who was the first Japanese person to visit the United States. He lived in Fairhaven, MA, which is where I live now. I thought maybe I should learn a bit more about him...
I enjoyed learning about a piece of history I never knew about. And what an amazing survival story! Primary source documents make it good for research too. Well written and good for ages 9-13.
Aug 06, 2007 Morgan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kids
I wan't going to read this but I'm glad I did it's an interesting historical story about a Crew of Japanese men who get shipwrecked and the one 16 year old boy who changes Japanese history.
A very short read that is easy to read with children. A great true life story. I didn't realize some details of Japanese history that were mentioned in the book.
Good non-fiction book. Interesting story about Japan- how they lived and their rules in the 1800's. I liked the block prints throughout the book.
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Rhoda Blumberg has written about the opening of Japan (1853-1854) in Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun, a Newbery Honor Book, which also won the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the Golden Kite Award. Her acclaimed histories also include The Incredible Journey of Lewis & Clark, The Great American Gold Rush, and The Remarkable Voyages of Captain Cook, all ALA Notable Books. She is the w...more
More about Rhoda Blumberg...
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