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Heart of a Samurai


3.92  ·  Rating details ·  6,802 ratings  ·  933 reviews
A 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

Hardcover, 305 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Harry N. Abrams
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Zachary Eversole They took it as an insult because it seemed so small compared to the other countries and they had never seen a map of the world before.

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Yumi Learner
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My Fifth Book in English This Year

I just finished reading my fifth book in English this year and it's "Heart of A Samurai". It's a story about John Manjiro who landed in the States as the first Japanese person. It was so interesting for me to read the book because I could learn history both of America and Japan.

Manjiro was born in a poor family as a fisherman's son. He started working for his family since he was 8 years old. He didn't get any chance to go to school. When he was 14 years old, som
The Shayne-Train
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
When reviewing books that I read to the little one, I usually take her closing thoughts as the basis for my rating. This time, it was: "I liked that one. A lot. I liked the stuff about whaling. And the stuff about people all being beautiful no matter what color or shape they are."

Now, me, I've always been a sucker for a well-written "fish out of water" story, and that's exactly what this is. A young Japanese fisherman gets shipwrecked in the 1840's and is rescued by an American whaling boat. He
Kara Cardwell
When I first saw the cover of this book I was extremely excited. I was thinking, a book about a Samurai!! I’ve always been intrigued by stories that deal with warriors.

Although Heart of a Samurai didn’t deal with the Samurai aspect as much as I’d hope for, it concentrated on something better. Going after what you want and believing in yourself even when no one else does. Seeing the main character struggle for so long to go after a goal, as well as see the results (whether good or bad) was a huge
2011 Newbery Honor

In Heart of a Samurai, Margi Preus tells a fictionalized story of Manjiro, a Japanese teen who, with four fishing companions, became shipwrecked on a rocky island and was rescued by an American whaling ship in the mid-1800's. Save for the addition of a couple of characters and some little details, the story is mostly true. Manjiro journeys to America as the adopted son of Captain Whitfield, learns English, and gains knowledge of American life and seafaring. He goes on to play a
A pleasant surprise! After storing this book on a shelf for a couple of years, I finally decided to read it. Here is adventure, history, and an intriguing young man who traveled the world on a whaling ship. I hope I will remember his name, Manjiro (John Mung).

The book is well-designed; it captures the feeling of another time, another place. Some of Mung's illustrations are used to illustrate the text.

If I could get my father to read this book, I think he'd enjoy it.

Preus is to be commended for t
Absolutely fascinating! I love Margi Preus' books, and how she blends real history with a great narrative, and this was no exception. I really loved the real sketches and pictures in this book, too. I knew of Japan's centuries old isolation, but I did not know that the first Japanese person to see America, and one of the first Japanese to be allowed back after having left Japan, was this young man, Manjiro. What a fascinating life!

I picked this up in the library (though I have been meaning to r
Lauren Stoolfire
I'm so glad I picked up Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. I wasn't at all familiar with the real life Nakahama Manjiro before reading this YA historical fiction adventure about his early life and experiences, but it certainly makes me want to learn more. I do wish that the novel would have been cut down into smaller parts of his life rather than covering as many years as it does because quite a bit does seem rushed especially near the end. As someone who has been studying the Japanese language ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Matthew
Delightful throwback of a book, like something I would have read in the fifties--I mean, if I'd been alive in the fifties, so, like a soft, faded, library-bound hardcover I would have taken out in the eighties, only to see it disappear a couple of years later when everything was modernized.

Not to say that it is too old-fashioned. I think this book is good enough and fast-paced enough to be interesting to modern children. I know kids in my classes would have enjoyed it if they'd been forced to re
Jonathan Peto
Jul 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
This book is based on the life of a historical person, a shipwrecked Japanese fisherman who was adopted by the captain of an American whaling ship in the 1840s. Interesting, right! He eventually returned to Japan with knowledge of the outside world, knowledge of English, and practical knowledge of subjects like navigation.

The author of Heart of a Samurai seemed to face a similar challenge as Pam Munoz Ryan, the author of Riding Freedom: a long, complicated life to dramatize but a minimum amount
Book Concierge
This young adult novel is marvelous work of historical fiction based on a real person. Manjiro was only 14 when he left his small village intent on getting food for his family. Setting out with some local fishermen they were caught in a storm and wound up on a deserted island. Ultimately rescued by an American whaling ship, Manjiro became the captain's favorite, due to his enthusiasm and willingness to learn, and was renamed John Mung.

I really liked this book and how Preus explores prejudice an
Jabiz Raisdana
A solid well-written book that should appeal to any middle school reader. This adventurous historically fictional tale has something for everyone. A nicely paced novel that literally spans the globe. You won't want to put it down. ...more
Anna Mussmann
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
There’s a lot to like about this novel. It follows the remarkable, true story of a young nineteenth-century Japanese fisherman who was shipwrecked, rescued by the crew of an American whaling ship, adopted by the captain, educated in America, and eventually made his way back to Japan--where he was imprisoned and interrogated for a year-and-a-half because of his foreign contact. Soon after his release, he was summoned to advise the authorities on their response to Commodore Perry.

The book is smoo
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour writing my thoughts about this book, all of which I just erased. None of what I wrote sounded like me. I was trying to write something terribly witty and profound, but that’s not me. So……'s my not witty or profound thoughts.

Heart of a Samurai is historical fiction, or maybe I should say historical/biographical fiction since the author noted that it is based on the life of a real person, real events, and a real time in history. One of the things tha
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
Excellent! I enjoy stories like this—based on the life of a real person but written in a novel like form. Highly recommend! Written more for a middle grade/teen audience, but I as an adult enjoyed it very much.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was such a nice read.
I loved the writing, the way the author described the surroundings and the characters.
The plot was interesting, there was a moment i felt like it made no point to the story, but i end up enjoying this book so much.
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an amazing adventure! I really enjoyed this fascinating true account.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heart of a samurai review

I think that this book is very good.
It is a good novel for readers.
I am very glad that it turns out well.
I hope that you would like it too.
Elizabeth Hayhoe
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this! Can’t believe it’s a true story. Listened to it and the narration was great.
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fourteen-year-old Manjiro is full of questions, questions that the elder fishermen he is with get irritated with. Manjiro must learn his place, but Manjiro dreams of one day becoming a samurai. That dream is impossible though, because he comes from a family of fishermen and that's all he ever be.

It's 1841 and Japan is the greatest country in the world, so they say. Stories are told of the horrible beasts that inhabit the West. When Manjiro and his fellow fishermen are swept out to sea in a great
Nov 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical-fic
This is a historical fiction book that takes place in 1841. One of the main characters, Manjiro is from Japan, but found from American sailors. He was 14 years old at the time when he was taken and corrupted by an American captain. He couldn't go home to Japan because the American ship would be fired upon. Manjiro would then be imprisoned or tortured for being on an American ship. He speaks very little English but decides to go to America with Captain Whitfield. While traveling by sea to America ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are many other wonderful reviews of this book which reference in depth its content. Thus, I will limit myself, as much as possible, to my personal reaction. This is a fictionalized account of the exceptional early life of John Mung, Nakahama Manjiro. Manjiro was a 19th Century Japanese fisherman who at the age of 14 shipwrecked on an uninhabited island off the coast of Japan and was soon thereafter rescued by an American whaler. For reasons explained in the book, it took Manjiro 10 years t ...more
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Heart of a Samurai" by Margi Preus is one of the greatest books I have read, though in the middle was not much content. This book could also include some cliff hangars. But in overall, read it and love it, and read and love it repeating that a lot. AMAZING BOOK, based on how a Japanese kid was lost, and found a 'family' in this book. It touches my heart. READ IT! ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
After being swept out to sea by a sudden storm, Manjiro and his fellow fishermen know they will likely never return to Japan - the island does not welcome those who are or have been tainted by the "blue-eyed barbarians." His fellow countrymen resign themselves to their homeless fate, but Manjiro befriends the captain and several of the crew, learning their language and ways. Even as the others disembark in Hawaii, he stays on board and becomes John Mung, ever striving, dreaming and asking questi ...more
Anna H.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, published in 2010, is an historical fiction book told in first person perspective of fourteen year old boy, Manjiro. This book has mostly a sad tone because of all the things that happened to Manjiro to tear him away from his family. This takes place in multiple places including Japan, America, Island, and on a ship ( The John Howland ). Manjiro and his friends get swept away on a fishing boat and end up stranded on an island for a while. They are left there wi
Diana Rose
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I finished this whole book in one sitting. It was a quick, easy read, but nonetheless one that I really enjoyed and learned a lot from. It conveyed a lot of good life lessons and observations on differences between people/cultures and how to overcome them.

Heart of a Samurai is based on the true story of a Japanese man named Manjiro. From what I gathered after reading the historical note in the back of the book, Preus has accurately followed the general outline of Manjiro's story very well, altho
Adalyn Norton
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sayonna Adams
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
Heart of a Samurai is a historical fiction book that is ideal for a fifth grade classroom. It is based off the real life story of Manjiro, a young Japanese boy who was shipwrecked then made a new life in America. I think that there is much to be learned from Manjiro's story, about how to overcome adversity, persevere, and bring about change.
One way to use this book in the classroom is during a science lesson about ocean animals. Because of the prominence of whaling in this story, students can
Knew I should have read this book when I worked at the Japanese school - just never got around to it - luckily I had it on my phone - daughter had surgery & recovery so couldn't read a book in the dark- so my first 'kindle' read - and it was good enough to keep my attention while sleep deprived and stressed out.

Historical fiction about John Manjiro the first Japanese person to come to America via a whaling vessel. Age 14, he sets off for adventure from Japan - gets shipwrecked on a small island
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this historical fiction/fictionalized biography about the real life adventures of a shipwrecked teenaged Japanese fisherman who is rescued by and eventually adopted by an American whaler ship's captain. Loved it so much that I bought it! Wonderful bibliography and suggested reading options for the interested reader to find out more about a variety of subjects: main character John Mung (Manjiro), Japan, whaling, etc. While written for a YA audience (actually middle-graders as this is a Ne ...more
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Play Book Tag: Heart of a Samurai / Margi Preus - 4**** 1 10 Dec 31, 2019 06:41AM  

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Margi Preus is a children's writer. She is a 2011 Newbery Honor winner and won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Heart of a Samurai. ...more

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Samurai (2 books)
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