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Samurai Shortstop

When its ruling Shogun warlords were overthrown in 1867, Japan awoke from a medieval dream to find itself three centuries behind the rest of the world. Almost overnight, Japan transformed itself from a feudal society into an industrial nation. Black suits replaced kimonos, trains replaced horses, and salarymen replaced samurai.

Two decades later, 16-year-old Toyo Shimada is concerned only with surviving his first day at First Higher School of Tokyo and making the Ichiko baseball team. But Toyo is suddenly introduced to bushido – the way of the warrior – when his favorite uncle refuses to accept the modern world and commits ritual suicide.

Now Toyo must prove there is a place for his family’s samurai values in the new Japan – or watch his father follow his uncle’s path. Toyo finds a perfect match with bushido and baseball – but will his father ever accept an American game that stands for everything he despises?

 Dial Books | May 2006 | Ages 12 and Up


“Fast moving, culturally respectful, and flat-out engrossing, this should lead off the next book talk on sports or historical fiction.” 

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review

“A memorable chronicle of boys’ inhumanity to boys, and a testament to enduring values in a time of social change.” 

—Booklist, Starred Review


ALA 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
2006 Washington Post Top Ten Books for Children
Booklist’s 2006 Top Ten Sports Books for Youth
Booklist’s 2006 Top Ten First Books for Youth
The New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age 2007
2007 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year
CCBC Choices 2007
2006 Librarians’ Choices
2006 Junior Library Guild Selection
2008-2009 Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Master List
2017 National Network of State Teachers of the Year Social Justice Book List