Synopses & Reviews
Can a one-legged boy become a great samurai warrior? Meet some unique aspiring champions in this kick-off to an exciting new martial arts series.
Niya Moto is the only one-legged samurai kid in Japan, famous for falling flat on his face in the dirt. The one school that will accept him is the Cockroach Ryu, led by the legendary sensei Ki-Yaga. He may be an old man overly fond of naps, but Ki-Yaga is also known for taking in kids that the world has judged harshly: an albino girl with extra fingers and toes, a boy who is blind, a big kid whose past makes him loath to fight. A warrior in his time, Ki-Yaga demands excellence in everything from sword fighting to poetry. But can the ragtag Cockroaches make the treacherous journey to the Samurai Trainee Games, never mind take on the all-conquering Dragons? In a fast-moving, action-filled tale that draws on true details of feudal Japan, Niya finds there’s no fear they can’t face as long as they stick together — for their friendship is more powerful than a samurai sword.
"First in a martial arts series written in chapter-long vignettes, Fussell's debut is infused with authentic emotion and an agile plot. Niya, a 14-year-old, one-legged boy with a vivid imagination, goes to study with the Cockroach Ryu in the Tateyama Mountains of Japan, led by ancient and mysterious sensei Ki-Yaga, who speaks using proverbs and encourages his disciples to embrace their spirit animals. 'My spirit totem flew into my heart. When I look into the mirror, I don't see my reflection; I see the White Crane. If I am afraid, it crouches with me and I'm not alone,' says Niya. There he meets Mikko, who has one arm; Yoshi, who is strong and large, but refuses to fight; Kyoko, who has an extra finger and toe; and Taji, who is blind. As they train for a coming-of-age ceremony followed by the Samurai Trainee Games, they gain strength from the sensei's lessons (from sword fighting to calligraphy) and from their budding friendships. James's expressive b&w illustrations and Fussell's focus on misfits beating the odds should insure that this spirited story appeals to a broad audience. Ages 9 14. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Sandy Fussell is a debut author who works in information technology and has a strong interest in history. She lives in Australia.
Rhian Nest James has illustrated more than sixty children’s books. Born in Wales, she now lives in Australia.