The Revenge of the Forty-Seven Samurai, by Erik Christian Haugaard, was a great choice for Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge. It’s a book I had in my 6th grade library for many years, and numerous students read it, I had it on my own TBR list for a long time, but am happy to say I finally picked it up and decided it was time … and I enjoyed it!
From the Publisher:
In time when the Shogun ruled Japan, two hundred samurai suffered a grave insult—their master met an unjust death. Forty-seven of them were courageous enough to avenge him, for in those days there was a saying: “One cannot live under the same sky with the murderer of one’s father or one’s lord.”
A lowly servant to one of the brave samurai is the boy Jiro, who calls himself a “fly on the wall.” Chosen as his master’s unlikely spy during the planning of the great revenge, Jiro must learn when to talk and when to listen, or at any moment he could lose his head to a samurai testing the sharpness of his sword.
As Jiro plays his small part in the elaborate plan of the forty-seven samurai, he searches for his own identity in the barbaric society of feudal Japan.
The story of the forty-seven ronin, who avenged the death of their master, is a national legend in Japan. There are many fictionalized versions of the incident, in books and movies, and they all celebrate the samurai code of honor: bushido.
From the web site: “Discover the Tale of the 47 Ronin”
One of the most important thing for westerners to fully appreciate the story of the 47 Ronin, is to understand the psychological, philosophical and spiritual foundations of the warrior class in ancient Japan: Bushido.
In Feudal Japan, Samurai devoted their lives to Bushido, a strict, unwritten code of living, teaching moral principles and values like loyalty, courage, honor and self-discipline.
This book is a nice retelling of the story. Its strength is that it is told through the eyes of Jiro, a fourteen year old boy whom young readers can really identify with, and that made this fascinating story particularly understandable for them.