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Shipwrecked! The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy

by Rhoda Blumberg

Published by HarperCollins, 2001
80 pages
ISBN: 0-688-17484-1

Ages 8 - 14

At age nine Manjiro Nakahama started working as a fisherman to support his mother and younger siblings after his father died in 1836. From a small Japanese coastal village, Manjiro set out one day five years later in a fishing boat with four other men and was caught in a violent storm that pushed the boat far out to sea before crashing it against rocks that surrounded an uninhabited island. The castaways survived for five months on seaweed, shellfish, and albatross before being rescued by an American whaling ship. Quick-witted Manjiro learned English quickly aboard the ship, and soon began to communicate easily with the Westerners whose mannerisms and appearance seemed so foreign to Manjiro and his countrymen. Because he lived in an era in which Japan intentionally isolated itself from the rest of the world, Manjiro became the first Japanese person to visit the United States. He kept a record of his observations by writing and sketching in a journal as he traveled throughout the United States and the rest of the world on whaling ships. In spite of his adventures and success as a whaler, he never lost sight of the fact that he wanted, above all, to return to Japan, an near impossibility given Japan's strict laws against foreign travel. Rhoda Blumberg's captivating account is greatly enriched by the political and social details she provides as a historical context so that we come to understand Manjiro as a man who was comfortable living in two diverse cultures. The handsomely designed, oversized volumes is generously illustrated with period illustrations, including many sketches by Manjiro himself. CCBC categories: Historical People, Places, and Events; Biography and Autobiography.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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