Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Heart of a Samurai (Newbery Honor Book, 2011) is based on the true story of a young Japanese boy, Manjiro Nakahama, who was shipwrecked with some other fishermen off the coast of Japan in 1841. They were rescued from a volcanic island by a whaling ship. Manjiro, named John Mung by the American captain, adventures all over the world. Sailor, farmer, artist, and a determined learner, Manjiro eventually makes his way back to Japan.
For me, the most amazing and thrilling aspect of the story was the inclusion of Manjiro’s own drawings, and the photographs of him and others. This is a really good book.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Newbery Medal 2017)
Since I am a writer of fantasy, I enjoyed being swept into Luna’s world of the Protectorate, and the complex strands of the story. The Protectorate is a dark and sad place, where each year one infant is sacrificed to the witch in the forest. Xan, a witch, saves one of these babies, and names her Luna. Xan tries to protect Luna from the girl’s magical powers, but this leads to trouble.
Sometimes the language lifted me, it was so fresh and delightful. I most enjoyed the evil witch who eats sorrows. What a clever creation! Even though it didn’t grab my heart, The Girl Who Drank the Moon was an enjoyable read.