professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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Samurai Shortstop

Linda Benson, the lovely and talented Book Review Editor from VOYA, sends me great stuff to review. I have learned to trust her picks for me. That is tough when the new book arrives and it has a title like SAMURAI SHORTSTOP and the cover art has someone gripping a bat and wearing a kimono. You think, what the...??? And then you decide to give it a chance and pack it into the suitcase for the trip to Hattiesburg and the USM Children's Book Festival.

Meet Toyo. As the book opens, Toyo has to attend his Uncle Koji's suicide. Koji has decided to end his life rather than live without being able to be a samurai. Toyo's family has a long history as samurai and this is the only way for Koji to save face. Toyo leaves home after this incredibly difficult time and heads off to Ichiko Academy. There he is less than thrilled to learn that the new students are subject to abuse at the hands of the upper classmen. To make matters worse, he is not permitted to play baseball with the team despite his talent at shortstop. Events conspire to bring Toyo to the coveted position and to lessons in bushido from his father. Bushido will help Toyo and his team play as one, a unit.

I must admit that I enjoyed this book more than I thought possible from the title and cover. It is absorbing and the details about samurai and Japanese history and besu boro (baseball) help the reader enter fully into Toyo's world.

Side note: yesterday I received the galley for the sequel to TWILIGHT called NEW MOON. Natalie has been locked in the embrace of this book since I made it home last night. She is in thrall and only puts the book down to take a bath. More after she is done...
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