Saru, a street urchin in sixteenth-century Japan, learns to survive by his wits in a city torn by war.
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Erik Haugaard was born in Denmark and has traveled extensively in the United States, Italy, Spain, and Japan. Called "a writer gifted in the art of the storyteller" by the BOSTON GLOBE, he is internationally known for his accomplishments as a playwright, poet, and translator. He has won critical acclaim for his books for young readers, including A BOY'S WILL, THE UNTOLD TALE, and CROMWELL'S BOY.From School Library Journal:
Grade 5 Up-- In feudal Japan, orphan Saru lives by his wits in a city still threatened by the conflict of rival warlords. He spends winter nights under a little-used shrine, with only a stray cat for warmth; eventually, he makes a few friends who change his life. Saru is likable, the other characters interesting, and the story often moving--the little cat is an excellent touch--but this book does not deliver. The plot moves slowly, with repetition of philosophical ideas and devices. The promised Samurai of the title shows up two thirds into the story, while other apparently major characters are set up, and then do not play large roles. The viewpoint is that of the adult looking back, and is sometimes overly mature. While Saru's insights into the plight of women in his society are laudable, they are also anachronistic. The preface is slow-moving and remote, and may alienate readers. The setting, however, is beautifully realized. Haugaard subtly conveys the foolishness of the feuding warlords, and how their behavior affects the common people; he is realistic about poverty without dwelling too much on the lurid details. The philosophy of the Samurai is introduced easily, as are the beliefs of Buddhism. The language unselfconsciously evokes the patterns of Japanese speech. Fantasy readers, primed to enjoy other cultures, may like this, as may those who have enjoyed the works of Katherine Paterson set in Japan, and Lensey Namioka's tales. --Annette Curtis Klause, Montgomery County Department of Public Libraries, MD
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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