BLUE FINGERS: A Ninja's Tale

Cheryl Aylward Whitesel, Author . Clarion $15 (252p) ISBN 978-0-618-38139-5

Whitesel's (Rebel: A Tibetan Odyssey ) often gripping historical novel explores a 12-year-old peasant boy's adventures as a ninja in Japan's Iga Mountains in 1545. In the action-packed, atmospheric opening pages, Koji's more adept twin, Taro (twins were considered unlucky in feudal Japan), rescues a master dye maker from drowning. The master rewards him with an offer to apprentice—but, for mysterious reasons, their parents substitute Koji. Homesick Koji fails miserably at the tasks set him and is sent home, shamed, but when he sees how angrily Taro reacts to his return, Koji runs off to the forest, where a young warrior kidnaps him and brings him to the ninja mountain training camp. Whitesel demonstrates how Koji's initial distrust and fear of the ninja gives way to an attempt to prove himself loyal to them. Finally he embarks on ninja training, learning not only to wield weapons and disguises but to develop his senses and to focus his energy, or ki. "A ninja's first priority is to win without fighting. Preparation. Stealth. Deception. Subterfuge." Whitesel highlights the ninja code of honor as the characters attempt to rid the kingdom of firearms. Despite a few loose ends, readers will be made curious about Japanese culture and history as they become ensnared in this adventure. Ages 10-14. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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