Golden Bat by Sandy Fussell

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Samurai Kids Book 6. Walker, 2011. ISBN: 978 1 921529474.
Highly recommended for ages 10 and up. Journeying across the Island of Cheju, Sensei and the Little Cockroaches are accosted by a group of pirates who set them a task which is to be fulfilled within eight days. The nephew of the pirate captain has been kidnapped and the Teacher and the Samurai Kids are to rescue and return him to his uncle. As a guarantee that Sensei and the Kids will return, the pirates demand to keep Mikko until Yuri is safely delivered to the captain. En route, they meet with a variety of characters, some of whom come to their assistance when they are most needed, especially when Sensei is injured. Will they return with Yuri in time?
From the outset, the story captures the attention of the reader and makes one wish to read without ceasing! Each character is described in such a way as to provide knowledge of them and their strengths and weaknesses. There is a certain amount of humour included as we are able to observe Niya and his relationships with Sensei and also with Kyoko and Iseul, the healer. Without being moralistic, Fussell manages to add rules by which everyone should abide by in order to create a better world. The resolutions to the problems faced by the protagonists are creative and show integrity, responsibility and social conscience. This would be a great series for use in upper primary literature circles as well as reading for pure enjoyment.
Jo Schenkel