HEART OF A SAMURAI and MOON OVER MANIFEST may have surprised people, but they really shouldn’t have. HEART OF A SAMURAI earned four starred reviews; MOON OVER MANIFEST got three. If these debut novels had been released in the spring rather than the fall, I think you would have heard more online buzz about them. (And, by the way, what a great year for Abrams: they bagged a Newbery Honor for HEART OF A SAMURAI and the YALSA Nonfiction Award for JANIS JOPLIN.)
HEART OF A SAMURAI is another solid honor book with broad child appeal, especially for boy readers. The gorgeous cover (my favorite of the year, actually) will entice readers, but the story will keep them hooked. I did feel that my attention lagged in some places, but that is probably because I am more accustomed to the briefer versions of this story, Rhoda Blumberg’s nonfiction account, SHIPWRECKED!, and Emily Arnold McCully’s picture book retelling, MANJIRO. Although there was some brief discussion of classic Newbery elements, we didn’t really give this one its just due leading up to the announcement. Please share your thoughts with us now.