Manjiro: The Boy Who Risked His Life for Two Countriesby Emily Arnold McCully
In 1841, Japan had been closed to the outside world for 250 years, and anyone who tried to return to the country after leaving it could be executed. So when the small fishing boat on which fourteen-year-old Manjiro was working was shipwrecked, he despaired of ever returning to his village. The captain of the American whaling ship that rescued Manjiro took a special… See more details below
In 1841, Japan had been closed to the outside world for 250 years, and anyone who tried to return to the country after leaving it could be executed. So when the small fishing boat on which fourteen-year-old Manjiro was working was shipwrecked, he despaired of ever returning to his village. The captain of the American whaling ship that rescued Manjiro took a special interest in him, inviting him to come live in Massachusetts. There, Manjiro was treated like Captain Whitfield's son, and he began to feel as though Massachusetts was his second home. Still, he never gave up his dream of finding a way to return to Japan and see his mother again.
Watercolor illustrations bring to life the true story of a determined and resourceful young man whose intimate knowledge of two cultures later led him to play an important role in the opening of Japan to Western trade and ideas.
Manjiro is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
A fascinating episode from Japanese history, related in an oversize picture-book format. In 1841, while 14-year-old Manjiro and four men were fishing, their small boat was destroyed in a storm, and they were cast away on a tiny island for almost six months. Though they survived a drought and an earthquake, they feared for their lives. "For over two and a half centuries Japan had been closed to the outside world. Anyone who tried to return after leaving the country could be put to death." They were finally rescued by a New England whaling ship. At journey's end, Captain Whitfield took Manjiro home to New Bedford, MA. Whitfield married and bought a farm where the boy learned to plant, cultivate, harvest, and ride a horse-a skill reserved for samurai in Japan. Despite increasing homesickness, he attended school and graduated at the top of his class. In 1849, the California gold rush lured him to San Francisco where he collected $600 in gold dust in 70 days. Finally, after a nine-year absence, he headed back to Japan with two of the original castaways. When they arrived, government officials jailed and questioned them for seven months. He told them of America's desire to trade and of railroads, telegraphs, drawbridges, and wristwatches. At last, he became an honored samurai. An author's note gives background on Japan's 250-year isolationist policy and how one curious, determined boy opened the door to the Western world. McCully's realistic watercolors are striking against white backgrounds and show the contrast between traditional Japanese and 19th-century New Englanders as well as the tumultuous seas and perils of a fishing life. An exciting account of a pivotal period inU.S.-Japanese history.-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Meet the Author
EMILY ARNOLD MCCULLY, a Caldecott Medalist, has written and illustrated many children's books, including Marvelous Mattie and Squirrel and John Muir, both NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies, and, most recently, The Escape of Oney Judge. She divides her time between New York City and upstate New York.
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