Thursday, August 2, 2018

#tbt: Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz

Samurai Shortstop by Alan Gratz. 320 p. Dial Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May, 2006. 9780142410998. (Own)

The day before fifteen-year-old Toyo Shimada is to start boarding school, his father forces him to witness his uncle commit seppuku, or ritual suicide, rather than renounce his Samurai status. It is the late 1800s and feudal Japan is embracing Western customs and modernizing. Toyo's father completes the ritual and informs Toyo that he expects him to do the same when his father's time comes. 

At boarding school, Toyo is subjected to cruel hazing by upperclassmen and his father arrives daily to teach him the way of the Samurai. While the cultures clash in many ways, Toyo falls in love with baseball and sees similarities between it and Bushido. 

Samurai Shortstop was Gratz's debut in 2006. According to his website, Samurai Shortstop made quite a few lists including, Best Picks for Young Adults; the 2006 Washington Post Top Ten Picks for Children; Booklist’s 2006 Top Ten Sports Books for Youth; Booklist’s 2006 Top Ten First Books for Youth; The New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age 2007 and 2007 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year. Not too shabby! He has since written 14 books for young people, many of which are historical fiction.

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