Caramel reviews Samurai by Louie Stowell

Caramel loves reading books about real things. In previous weeks he reviewed Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #2) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne and The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles by Chris McNab. This week he shares his thoughts on another nonfiction book: Samurai by Louie Stowell. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions as needed.

Caramel reviews Samurai by Louie Stowell.
Caramel reviews Samurai by Louie Stowell.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, what is this book about?

Caramel: It’s about samurai of course!

S: But what is a samurai?

C: Samurai were the noble horseback warriors of old Japan. They fought with swords named katana, and bows and arrows. They had a code of honor called bushido. That means that they followed certain rules. For example, if a samurai was losing in a battle, he would not be captured alive. He used one of his special swords to kill himself. This was called seppuku or hara-kiri.

S: That sounds rough. What else did you learn from this book?

C: Samurai thought the cherry blossom was an important symbol, because at the height of its beauty it would fall to the ground to die. Samurai also had to be willing to sacrifice themselves before they got old. They saw the cherry blossom as a proof that this was the natural way of things.

S: That is kind of romantic. And cherry blossoms are really pretty,. aren’t they?

C: Yes, they are! They are called sakura! They are a very pale pink and they are really beautiful!

S: Did you learn anything else?

C: Yes. Samurai wrote poems and read a lot. They also liked the arts. Most samurai were men, though women of samurai families also learned to fight and some even went to battle.

S: Why are you always speaking of them in the past tense Caramel? Are there no samurai left now?

C: Not exactly. In 1873 the emperor of Japan decided to replace the samurai with a modern army. Today there are no samurai left in Japan but only their descendants.

S: That is a big word Caramel! Do you know what it means?

C: It means relatives and people who came after.

S: Yes, that’s more or less it.

C: Samurai served clan lords, or a shogun, the military leader of Japan. The book tells stories of many wars of many samurai families. Many of them died.

S: So did you enjoy this book Caramel?

C: Yes. It was kind of violent though. Lots of people killing each other and themselves, and lots of death.

S: True. Hmm.. What else can we say about this book?

Caramel shows some of the pictures in Samurai by Louie Stowell.
Caramel shows some of the pictures in Samurai by Louie Stowell.

C: There are many pictures in the book. And this is a chapter book. It has seven chapters.

S: Do you have a favorite one?

C: Not really. But I have a least favorite one. The third chapter is called The Scarlet Sea. And it is about two clans of samurai fighting and the losing side dying. It is very sad.

S: Yes, that was a sad story, wasn’t it?

C: Yes.

S: Hmm.. let us end in a more upbeat tone. You also know how to make samurai helmets, right?

C: Yes! Just right for samurai bunnies! You can find some helpful directions here. And below is me wearing a samurai helmet I made!

Caramel is proudly wearing his samurai helmet.
Caramel is proudly wearing his samurai helmet.
Caramel really enjoyed learning about samurai!
Caramel really enjoyed learning about samurai!

Caramel reviews Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #2) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne

Caramel recently started reading the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. After reading the first two books and their accompanying Fact Tracker books, he decided that he really really likes the second Fact Tracker book on knights and castles that is meant to accompany Magic Tree House #2: The Knight at Dawn. Below he shares his thoughts on why. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions when needed.

Caramel reviews Knights and Castles by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne.

Sprinkles: What do you want to tell us about this book Caramel?

Caramel: It’s nice. There’s lots of pictures. And it has many many facts. The whole book is full of facts. I like that.

S: Yes, I noticed you like nonfiction a lot. You always make sure to share your favorite facts even in your reviews of fiction books. Why do you like nonfiction?

C: Then I know more about the world. And I like learning new things. My middle name should be Curious!

S: I like that! So what kind of facts did you learn from this book?

C: The knights lived in the Middle Ages.

S: Do you know when that was?

C: Not really.

S: Let us look at the book together!

C: 1300s? Ok, I’m reading from page 14:

“The Middle Ages began about 450 AD. They lasted for over 1000 years.”

That is a long time!

S: Yes it is.

Caramel is finding that he likes books with facts!

S: What other facts did you find interesting?

C: Let me look. The first castles! I’m reading on page 22:

“The first castles looked more like forts in the Old West than like castles in fairy tales. They were built out of wood. These castles were usually built on a mound of earth called a motte.”

S: Was that one of your favorite facts?

C: Yep. And I learned about tournaments. Then I was curious and wanted to learn more. So I saw a video from the History Channel that showed people fighting with lances today. It’s called jousting. There are men in full armor, on horses, and the horses have armor too. And the men have lances. A lance is a very long stick with a sharp end to poke your enemy with. But in a tournament, it is enough to push your enemy off their horse.

S: Would you want to be in a jousting tournament?

C: I’m a bunny! How would I carry a lance and ride a horse? I’m too small for that.

S: It also kind of looks violent, right?

C: Yes, but there are rules against actually hurting one another. And the horse. You cannot hit the other guy’s horse!

S: That sounds fair. So what else did you like about this book Caramel?

C: I like that the book is all about facts, but sometimes on the sides of the book, there is Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House books, and they tell us things.

S: Yes, I saw them on the margins too. What kinds of things do they say?

C: Annie for instance says at some point that it wasn’t fair that only boys could be knights. She’s right, of course!

S: Yes, that’s true. Girls couldn’t do many things back then.

C: But today girls can do so much more! They can do anything! The person who wrote the Magic Tree House books is a girl, for example!

S: And she does write really well, doesn’t she?

C: Yes, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

Caramel really enjoyed Knights and Castles and is looking forward to reading more of the Fact Tracker books.