cover image The Bamboo Sword

The Bamboo Sword

Margi Preus. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0807-7

Preus revisits historical Japanese-American relations in a tale that catapults Yoshi, a young servant who longs to wield the sword of a samurai, into a clash of alien powers. When Commodore Perry’s steamships (“Black dragons belching smoke”) arrive in 1853 in an effort to force isolationist Japan into diplomatic relations, the feudal world of Edo Japan is shaken to its core. Yoshi’s master, Hideki, can’t stomach his duties as a samurai, and his bodyguard, Kitsune, blames Yoshi, who fights back and flees for his life. A homeless fugitive, Yoshi finds work with a generous artist, a sandal maker, and finally Manjiro, the hero of Preus’s Newbery Honor–winning Heart of a Samurai. Yoshi’s narrative alternates with that of Jack Sullivan, a cabin boy on Perry’s ship. When Jack is stranded on shore, Yoshi risks everything to hide him from Japanese authorities and rogue samurai whose identities are threatened by a changing social structure. Though her characters lack some of the depth of her previous work, Preus remains adept at meshing fiction with carefully researched history. Ages 10–14. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. (Sept.)