Manjiro: The Boy Who Risked His Life for Two Countries

Overview

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 ...

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Gordonsville, Virginia, U.S.A. 2008 Hard Cover New 9 1/2 x 12. A new glossy pictorial hardcover book. No DJ. A true story of a determined and resourceful young may whose ... intimate knowledge of two cultures later led him to paly an important role in the opening of Japan to Western trade and ideas. Read more Show Less

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“McCully’s clearly written narrative portrays mid-nineteenth-century America as vividly as Manjiro’s adventures, and both setting and characters come to life in this Caldecott-winning illustrator’s dramatic paintings.” —Booklist

“The historically rich text and the realistic watercolor illustrations capture Manjiro’s life and times—both in Japan and New England—making this a first-rate introduction to a relatively unknown young figure in Japanese-American relations.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A map, bibliography, and thumbnail photograph of adult Manjiro are inclusions that will make this title as welcome to social studies teachers as it will be to armchair adventurers.” Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books

“An exciting account of a pivotal period in U.S.-Japanese history.” —School Library Journal

“The story is well told and involving.” —The Horn Book

Children's Literature - Vicki Foote
This true story begins in Japan in 1841. At that time, no ships or boats were allowed out of the country and any native of Japan would face death if he returned. Manjiro, who is 14, works on a fishing boat that shipwrecks, and he and the other fishermen are stranded on an island. They are eventually rescued by an American whaling ship. The captain and Manjiro become friends, and he invites Manjiro to come to Massachusetts to live and go to school. Manjiro faces some discrimination, but adjusts and completes his education. He yearns to return to Japan to see his family, and decides to travel to San Francisco to earn money to buy a boat. He is finally able to find his way back to Japan, along with several others who had been shipwrecked with him. He is taken prisoner, but after interrogation in which he describes America and their intentions to trade with Japan, he is allowed to return to his village and reunite with his mother. This narrative account has little dialogue, but it tells an amazing story and has outstanding full-page illustrations in watercolor. An author's note with a map at the end of the text further explains Manjiro's life and his influence in opening up communication and trade between Japan and the United States. Reviewer: Vicki Foote
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

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

Kirkus Reviews
In this incredible true story, a poor Japanese boy, through fate and enterprise, bridges the cultural gap between Japan and America at a time when Japan was isolated from the world. In 1841, 14-year-old Manjiro and four other fishermen became castaways on a desert island for six months until rescued by an American whaling ship. The resourceful, adaptable Manjiro soon became Captain Whitfield's favorite, eventually returning to Fairhaven, Mass., where Whitfield educated and mentored him. Initially regarded as a foreigner, the enterprising Manjiro became a popular, respected member of the community, but never forgot his family in Japan. He subsequently worked on a whaling ship and in the California gold rush to save enough money to return to his native land, where he was instrumental in teaching Japan about America. The historically rich text and the realistic watercolor illustrations capture Manjiro's life and times-both in Japan and New England-making this a first-rate introduction to a relatively unknown young figure in Japanese-American relations. (author's note, map, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374347925
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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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