Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy

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9780688174859: Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy

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 whaling boat rescued him, Manjiro decided to do what no other Japanese person had ever done: He went to America, where he received an education and took part in events that eventually made him a hero in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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About the Author:

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 winner of the Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for her overall contribution to nonfiction.

Rhoda Blumberg says that while doing research for Commodore Perry, "I read about the ordeals and strange adventures of Manjiro, then spent years replaying his life story in my mind until I felt impelled to write about him."

The author and her husband, Gerald, live in Yorktown Heights, New York.

From Booklist:

Gr. 5-9. Blumberg learned about Manjiro, the first Japanese person to live in the U.S., when she wrote the Newbery Honor Book Commodore Perry in the Land of Shogun (1985). Now she devotes an entire volume to his remarkable life, beginning with his childhood as a fatherless boy working as a fisherman to support his family. A shipwreck strands Manjiro on an island, where he is rescued by a passing whaling ship. He works with the crew, learning the particulars of whaling, and eventually becomes a surrogate son to the ship's captain, who takes Manjiro back to Massachusetts and to an education. After another stint at sea, Manjiro joins the gold rush and makes enough money to return to Japan. He avoids imprisonment and even death (the xenophobic era's sentence for Japanese who returned from foreign countries) by instructing the country's top officials about American customs and policies. He eventually becomes a samurai, helping broker the opening of Japanese ports to the rest of the world. Exemplary in both her research and writing, Blumberg hooks readers with anecdotes that astonish without sensationalizing, and she uses language that's elegant and challenging, yet always clear. Particularly notable is the well-chosen reproductions of original artwork, including some sketches by Manjiro himself, which help illustrate Japanese culture and viewpoints of the time, the whaling industry, and nineteenth-century America. An author's note, bibliography, and suggested Web sites conclude this outstanding biography. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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