White Crane (Samurai Kids, #1)
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White Crane (Samurai Kids #1)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  175 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Niya Moto is the only one-legged Samurai kid in Japan, famous for falling flat on his face in the dirt. The one school that will accept him is the Cockroach Ryu, led by the legendary sensei Ki-Yaga. He may be an old man overly fond of naps, but Ki-Yaga is also known for taking in kids that the world has judged harshly: an albino girl with extra fingers and toes, a boy who...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by Walker Books
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So this is my second Middle Grade review ever and I have been trying to keep these one's shorter. Wish me luck! Of all the novels I have received in the past two months, this one got the greatest reaction from my class. The combination of the Samurai theme with the amazing artistry seemed to immediately capture their imaginations.

Sandy Fussell is an author with the talent of simplicity. She is deceptively descriptive as she paints images so effectively that kids access their imagination while no...more
I got this as an audiobook for a road trip with a diverse mix of kids (10-12 year olds) in the vehicle. It was a good choice. It is an empowering story focusing on the character's strengths rather than their weaknesses. It mixes traditional feudal Japanese stories and themes into an accessible story for mid-grade kids. Some of the teaching stories were a lot of fun outside of the larger story. The symbolism and metaphors were strong. The kids started talking about goldfish in their stomachs swim...more
I was a little uncertain how seriously I was supposed to take it. It wasn't historical fiction, but it wasn't straight-up fantasy either. How accurate it was to historical Japan is something I'm not qualified to judge.


This one-legged boy not once, but twice, referred to his 'ankles'. And once, in the same paragraph with one of the 'ankles' references referred to his 'sandals'. He was also swept off his feet at one point, but I'll take that for a figure of speech. It just.. it doesn't do...more
Niya is a one-legged Samurai boy in the Cockroach Rya, a Samurai school in which all the students have problems. In addition to Niya, one boy has only one arm, one is blind, one doesn't want to fight, and there's a girl who is an albino, obvious difficulties to deal with in training to be Samurai. They're training to participate in the Samurai Trainee Games and fear the Dragon Rya, a school with a fearsome reputation. They know they'll be beaten, but hope they'll at least win enough points to sh...more
Katrina Ly
i haven't got much to say about this book except i didn't really like it. from the start, the writing just seemed to scream CLICHE CLICHE. there wasn't much originality in it except the part about the ryu teaching kids nobody else really wanted which was cool. the writing was too junior and too light for me and the plot just wasn't dark enough. the supposedly wise people were portrayed in a way i didn't really believe and the dragon master was more like a naughty schoolboy than an actual evil, s...more
Short & Sweet: Niyo is a one-legged samurai kid who is training with Ki-Yaga of the Cockroach Ryu. All of Ki-Yaga's students are overcoming a form of disadvantage and they do not believe they can win the Samurai Trainee Games, but will compete all the same. These students may be missing a leg, an arm, or even eyesight, but they have an inner strength that may help them overcome the fierce Dragon Ryu. I was pleasantly surprised by this book, which had a lot of struggles within. Not only did...more
This was a great story. I loved Niya's voice, he tries to be practical but sometimes his imagination gets the better of him. I loved their sensei, Ki-Yaga, he is an all knowing, butt-kicking, sleepy little old dude who loves those kids.

All the kids have problems but they overcome them together. That's what this story is about, overcoming your handicaps, obstacles and trials by believing in yourself and teamwork.

This is one that I will pass on to my nieces. I think they will like the samurai kid...more
Travis Berketa
I found the way this book was written to be somewhat tedious in the reading and the attempts to make Kyoko, the six-fingered girl, a strong female lead appeared quite forced. It pretty much showed the "Samurai Boys can't do it, but the Samurai Girl", which kind of went against the books theme of working together to achieve success.

However, that said, I thought the book does have some excellent themes for kids to take heed of. As a teacher, I feel that this book is great with the issues it covers...more
Theo P
This book was very good from beginning to end. The people at the Cockroach Ryu are specially challenged because they have extra or missing appendages or fingers or toes, so it's a challenge to learn to swordfight. And they've never won a trainee games thing. This is after the Bakamatsu, I think. And one year they're feeling especially confident because they've been practicing and disciplined more than anyone else. Will they win the trainee games? Or will the dragon ryu prevail again? Read this e...more
I really liked this book. It was gentle, but funny and had elements of adventure and violence. There was a lot of pint-sized wisdom throughout the book, which is relevant to big and little people.

I really enjoyed the Samurai games, which included both physical aspects and mental aspects, such as haiku, calligraphy and often cunning won over brawn.

I found the language a little stilted, but it suited the narrator and I quickly got used to it.
Really love the first two books of this series, but the library doesn't have the rest (ILL either!). They teach respect, caring, the difference between bullying and friends teasing one another out of love and how what's on the outside doesn't indicate what's on the inside. Oh, and teamwork and true strength vs. true weakness ... absolutely adore these books, my son thinks I'm crazy as I cry at the end of each one. ...
This was the first book of this kind I have ever read, after it was recommended by a student and I had seen it on this year's Battle of Books list for Hong Kong. I enjoyed it, especially since it was so different from what I usually read. I am sure kids love it since it is a great adventure in which the underdogs through determination, courage, loyalty and friendship make a difference.
The Styling Librarian
I love the one sentence promo on the back of this book: "Can a one-legged boy become a great samurai warrior?" Terrific book, fascinating premise, and my favorite thing was the messages of flexibility and diverse opinions are acceptable. This was a book I read for Hong Kong Battle of the Books. Love that it is exposing me to Australian authors!
Ada Lee
My fifth grade students have been reading a series of chapter books for this year's Battle of the Books. This is the one that has won over the hearts of all, both boys and girls. In their words, it is "an action story of friendship, compassion, and self-acceptance." They all love it, and I love it as well.
This book is about a samurai school that takes children that nobody else wants and transforms their lives to become samurai. The sensei does not give up on his students, although they all struggle with different disabilities. The book has a great story that can benefit any reader.
Kimberly Gould
A wonderful tale of triumph over personal difficulty. It's great to watch the handicapped Samurai Kids reach beyond their limitation and excel. So many lessons about friendship, inner strength, and learning to know oneself. Perfect for any young reader and many an older one.
A school for samurais where all the students have something to overcome. One has a missing leg, another a missing arm, one is blind, another has six finger and toes. I really liked how the Sensai relentlessly emphasized the students strengths and what they were good at.
Oct 07, 2011 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Teachers
Recommended to Jessica by: Amazon
This book makes a perfect read aloud to go along with a character unit. My fifth grade team is studying Japan, making this book an even better fit. My students can't wait for the time of the day when I read this novel! I like how the ending is a happy twist.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Tilatitsky
Absolutely, positivley funny and great. I was chuckling though half of the book, because, well, I have a different sense of humor. Still, it was great and all of that. Hope I can read the next one. And yes, READ IT. Please.
Nov 05, 2008 Sonia added it
I finished copyediting this book last week. It is an incredibly sweet young adult book about five samurai trainees, all with physical impediments that somehow make them even stronger in the ways of Bushido. Go, Candlewick.
Sep 13, 2010 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: arc, jfic
A tale of plucky misfits that triumph over the arrogant champions. Nothing new there, but I for one couldn't resist a band of young samurai with disabilities hailing from the hardy Cockroach Ryu.
White Crane is a big-hearted story about children with physical or social disabilities who must come together under the guidance of their ancient sensei who is usually napping but sees everything!
Wonderful! Very exciting read, but also loads of wonderful messages about courage, ability/disability, friendship and integrity. We'll be reading the whole series!
Brenda Kahn
This is a nice mg series combining humor and some samurai training. Accidentally read the second book first last year and thought I'd eventually get to the first.
Good book. I read this aloud to my 4th grade in Library class. They loved it, too. We are all wanting to read the others in the series. Perfect book for the 7-9 set.
Great book about young samarais who have physical disabilities that doesn't interfere with their training with a great, wise teacher
Jordan Funke
Definitely for younger teens and tweens. A lot more lessons than action, but good characters who I hope to see grow in the series.
Jo Beth
The last of the 2013 Battle of the Books selections. It was a good read.
Grade5 Five
I like this book because i think the story is going to be really good.
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Sandy Fussell lives south of Sydney with her husband and two sons. She studied mathematics at university, is intensely interested in history and now works in IT. From the moment she could read, Sandy loved books and always wanted to be a writer. In school, she wrote what she refers to as “booklets” and “terrible plays that the teacher made the class perform”. After school, Sandy forgot about writi...more
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