Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior for him. This is the first book in a series about Jack Fletcher, an English boy who lands in Japan and trains to be a samurai in the 1600s.
At many different points I was reminded of The Karate Kid; the story is not original and I could see exactly when the drama was going to occur. Still, middle grade readers will enjoy making predictions and will feel like strong readers when everything they guess comes true.
I lived in Japan for a year and enjoyed all of the details in the novel. Clearly, Chris Bradford is knowledgable about Japanese culture and martial arts. There is a lot of Japanese in the book! The glossary defines many of the words, although some of the longer phrases are left unexplained. I'm excited for Darrel to read The Way of the Warrior and try out some Japanese for himself. The second novel in the series, The Way of the Sword just came out a few weeks ago and I will be adding that to our wish list.
Readers of this series should check out Chris Bradford's website, which has lots of information on Japanese culture.